PROVO – Kyle Collinsworth’s 12th career triple-double led No. 2-seed BYU in a 97-79 win over No. 7-seed UAB in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.
“Tonight, our team competed well,” head coach Dave Rose said. “We played together and shared the ball and we were efficient offensively. We had 25 assists and 38 baskets. I’m happy for them. It was a good win. I’m glad we played well, and we’re looking forward to playing on Friday.”
Collinsworth extended his NCAA record to 12 career triple-doubles, tallying 19 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Chase Fischer led all BYU scorers with 27 points on 10 of 20 shooting, while hitting seven shots from deep. Nick Emery poured in 22 points, shooting 9 of 18 from the field while adding five assists. Kyle Davis recorded 11 points and registered five rebounds on the night.
“I just kept shooting,” Fischer said. “That’s basketball and I think that every shooter will tell you that you’ll miss good looks. I missed some of those and it was frustrating. Kyle, Nick and Zac found me for some good looks. I was honestly exhausted in that second half because of the pace of the game, but I knew I just had to set my feet on those 3s.”
BYU jumped out to a fast start, putting together an 11-2 run after back-to-back threes from Fischer with three minutes gone in the half.
The Cougars and Blazers then traded baskets to set things at 13-7 with 15 to play in the half.
A 12-5 Cougar run that included a couple of Emery 3-pointers and two monster dunks from Collinsworth extended the BYU lead to 25-12 at the 12-minute mark.
UAB responded with a quick 7-2 run to chip away at the BYU lead, bringing the score to 33-23 with eight minutes remaining in the half.
Baskets from Emery and Fischer and two from Corbin Kaufusi pushed the Cougar lead out to 41-26 at the three minute mark. An Emery 3-pointer closed out the first half, with BYU up 51-30.
Emery finished the half with 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting, including 3 of 5 from deep. Fischer also added 11 points, hitting 4 of 9 from the field. Collinsworth tallied six points, six rebounds and nine assists during the first half. His nine dimes set a career-mark for helpers in a first half.
Both teams traded scores to start the second half, with a Davis jumper setting things at 57-38 for the Cougars with two minutes gone.
UAB put together a 23-8 run that spanned six minutes to make it a four-point game before a Collinsworth three-point play put BYU up 68-61 at the 12 minute mark.
The Cougars then responded with a 26-8 run of their own, jumping out to a 94-72 lead with four minutes left in regulation. That run included two Emery baskets, a Zac Seljaas three and 14 points from Fischer, including four buckets from deep.
“It was up and down like a roller coaster ride,” Collinsworth said. “We were up by at least 20 at halftime, and suddenly it was within six, and then we were up by 20 again. But it showed us a lot tonight. It showed we’re able to weather the storm and that we could build back our lead.”
BYU and UAB then traded baskets to finish the game, setting the final score at 97-79 for the Cougars.
“I was certainly disappointed with our competitiveness in the first half,” UAB coach Jerod Haase said. “In the second half, I was proud of the way we came out. I like the way we competed, especially on the defensive end. We did take some bad shots towards the end. This is big time basketball in a big time environment.”
BYU advances and will return to the Marriott Center to face No. 3-seed Virginia Tech in the second round of the NIT this Friday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU. Cougar fans can also listen to the game on the Cougar IMG Sports Network.
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