PROVO – Elijah Bryant led BYU to a commanding 80-68 win over Illinois State Wednesday night in the Marriott Center. Bryant finished the game just shy of a triple-double with 17 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals.
“The position of this game on the calendar, in the middle of these in-state games, it was a real challenge for our guys,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “I think emotionally and physically we responded to the challenge really well.”
TJ Haws had a season high 20 points and led the Cougars in scoring. Yoeli Childs added 17 points and seven boards.
Bryant scored the first points of the game on a 3-pointer off a pass from Haws and started the Cougars on a 7-0 run through the first three minutes of play. The Redbirds later answered with four straight points of their own to cut the deficit to 7-4 with 16:45 left in the half.
After a few minutes of limited scoring, Haws hit a 3 to extend BYU’s lead to 14-6 at the 11:15 mark and sparked an 11-0 run. The next possession, Dalton Nixon followed up with a three-point conversion and after a defensive stop, ignited the arena with an offensive board and dish out to Haws who hit behind the arc to make it 20-6, forcing Illinois to take a timeout with 9:26 left in the first half.
A few minutes later Bryant maintained BYU’s command of the game and hit two consecutive treys to make it 28-7.
Illinois State’s Phil Fayne hit a nice jay after a well-delivered pass from Milik Yarbrough to cut it to 28-13, but McKay Cannon responded with a beautiful drive through a traffic-filled lane to lay it in and extend the lead to 17 with three minutes to go in the first half.
With 1:30 left in the first half Bryant got a quick defensive board and sent the ball sailing to a wide-open Haws who finished the nice dish with a one-handed slam, putting the Cougars up, 37-17.
Childs started the second half with an offensive rebound and lay in to keep BYU’s momentum coming out of halftime and a 41-17 advantage.
Moments later, Jahshire Hardnett had a nice drive past the Redbird defenders to give BYU its largest lead of the night, 28 points, at the 17:07 mark. In response, Illinois State hit a 3 to try and gain momentum in the game, but a deep trey from Haws a few minutes later put the Cougar’s lead up again to 27, 55-28.
The Redbirds however answered with a 5-0 run and forced BYU to call a timeout, leading 55-38, with 13:39 left in the second half.
As Illinois State fought to gain ground in the game, Hardnett sent a perfectly delivered alley-oop to Childs to increase a commanding lead to 61-36 with 11:32 remaining in the game.
Illinois State’s Keyshawn Evans sent a great pass over BYU defenders to an open Fayne under the hoop for the rim-rocking, alley-oop dunk. Childs responded right back on the other end with a two-handed slam of his own, making it 72-55 for BYU with 7:08 left on the clock.
At 6:18, Bruninga fought hard to keep the Redbirds in the game with a trey that cut the lead to 14, 72-58. However, Child surrounded by defenders received a dish down low and dunked the ball for a three-point conversion to put the game away, fouling Bruninga out with 4:07 left in the second half.
BYU finished the game shooting 53 percent from the field and 29 percent from behind the arc. Illinois State matched the Cougar’s percentage from the t3-point line, but only shot 44 percent on field goals.
The Cougars compete this Saturday, Dec. 9, in the Beehive Classic at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. MST and the game will be televised on BYUtv. Audio broadcasts can be heard on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143 and KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM. Links to the live stats are also available on the BYU men’s basketball schedule page.
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