PROVO – Junior guard Elijah Bryant led the BYU men’s basketball team to a 91-61 victory over Mississippi Valley State in the season opener Saturday night at the Marriott Center.
“I thought we had a really good game plan tonight and executed it well,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “Tonight, Elijah was near perfect in his offensive execution. He was patient, had a good pace and was aggressive. You always want to get that first win. It’s important for the team and their confidence.”
Bryant scored 27 points, shooting 10 of 11 from the field (.909 percent) for a BYU record for field goal percentage in a season opener. TJ Haws added 14 points, five assists and four rebounds. Yoeli Childs recorded his sixth career double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. Childs also led the team with six assists and five blocks, both career highs. Zac Seljaas contributed 11 points.
Bryant put the Cougars (1-0) on the board first with a layup and Seljaas converted on a three-point play to give BYU an early 5-0 lead.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Haws and an offensive rebound by Dalton Nixon for a bucket put the Cougars up 18-10 after eight minutes of play. The Delta Devils (0-1) answered with six consecutive points to cut the deficit down to two, 18-16.
A Childs jumper with 9:37 to play in the first half started the Cougars on a 29-7 run, which included 12 points by Bryant and two treys by Seljaas for a 47-23 advantage at halftime.
After one half, Bryant led all scorers with 16 points and Seljaas tallied nine. BYU shot 55.6 percent from the field compared to Mississippi Valley’s 31.4 percent.
The second half started with a free throw by the Delta Devils, but the Cougars answered with an 8-0 run. A 3-pointer by MVSU’s Dante Scott temporarily ended the run with BYU ahead 57-27 with 16:28 to play.
The two teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of the game – highlighted by a steal by Kajon Brown and a three-point conversion by Haws. With 7:44 remaining in the game, Childs scored a free-throw to give the Cougars a 41-point lead, the largest of the night.
On the night, BYU shot 58.9 percent from the field and held the Delta Devils to only 37.5 percent.
BYU announced that guard Nick Emery was taking a leave of absence from the team and would not play in the 2017-18 season. Emery recently divorced and is also being investigated for allegedly breaking NCAA rules.
The Cougars travel to New Jersey on Wednesday, Nov. 15 as they take on the Princeton Tigers. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. Live coverage will be available on NBC Sports Philadelphia and California and will be streamed on the Ivy League Network. Audio broadcasts can be heard via the BYU Sports Network, BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143) and KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM.
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