BYU basketball put an end to BYU fan’s misery by pulling off a long-awaited win against Utah Saturday night. BYU beat Utah 77–65 in a noisy Marriott Center, complete with safety first signs and hard hats.
That feels good.
Now the Cougars have completed a three-week run of in-state rivalry games — in which the Cougars came out victorious each time — and are riding a six-game winning streak with just one more week of games remaining before conference play begins.
“It was an interesting three weeks,” BYU coach Dave Rose said referring to the proximity of all the in-state games on the schedule. “The victories are what makes it kind of fun. The preparation is kind of agonizing for coaches. I know our players love it. I know our fans love it, and I’m just happy for those guys to be able to get that done.”
BYU finished off its in-state game series with another win largely in part because of BYU junior Elijah Bryant’s offensive effort. Bryant hit 5-of-7 threes on his way to 29 points.
“His physical presence and his skill set is really unique,” Rose said. … “What I really liked about (Bryant) tonight was he was so strong with the ball and he was really patient.”
The Cougars took control of the game from the beginning, never letting the Utes lead past the first five minutes. The Cougars led with as many as 16 points.
Coming into this rivalry game, Rose said both teams were shorthanded. BYU played without three forwards: sophomore Ryan Andrus, sophomore Dalton Nixon and junior Braiden Shaw. Then BYU sophomore Yoeli Childs went down with a leg cramp following a power charged dunk, which brought the score to 37–28. So BYU sophomore Payton Dastrup, who had played a total of 51 minutes prior to Saturday night’s game, came in.
“We spent a lot of time with Payton this week,” Rose said. “We just knew this week that we needed another big guy. … We knew he would play minutes tonight just because of their size.”
Dastrup ended up playing 10 minutes and contributed eight points and four rebounds. Included in those eight points were two 3-pointers, which he scored when Utah was starting to close the gap. A self-defined “team first guy,” Dastrup was glad he was there for his team on such an important night.
“When I get my chance, like I did against UMass, I’m going to come through and make the most of it,” Dastrup said. “The coaches are going to continue to give me a little more trust every single game. Ultimately, I had to do it for my guys because they’ve got my back and I’ve got their back and we’re in this together.”
Dastrup, who Bryant joked has been ready for this game since he was three, said the energy of the Marriott Center and the result of the game was a dream come true.
“Last night, I’m surprised I slept so well because today was something special,” Dastrup said. “I’ve been a blue guy since birth pretty much. To be able to get a chance to experience the rivalry firsthand playing this game…was special. I’ll never forget this moment.”
Besides Bryant and Dastrup, Childs contributed 15 points and five rebounds and three blocks.
BYU (9–2) will next host Idaho State in the Marriott Center on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.