Orem •There aren’t many players on the BYU roster left from last season, when the Cougars were stunned by the underdogs from across town at Utah Valley. Those who were there, though, remember the sting.
And Yoeli Childs was there.
On Wednesday night, Childs made sure he and the Cougars wouldn’t have to suffer the same fate this time around. In a 85-58 win over UVU, the BYU sophomore set a new career-high with 24 points and added 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
“We try to treat every game the same but, personally, it was definitely a big game,” Childs said. “Every single day we hear about the UVU game last year.”
Now, Wolverines coach Mark Pope, a former BYU assistant, knows it’s his team’s turn.
“Even going through the line [to shake hands], just looking at the guys, I wanted to throw up,” Pope said with a small laugh. “We’re going to hear about this every single day, from every single person, and that’s why these games are great.”
While the stakes were great, the basketball played didn’t always match Wednesday night. The Cougars played like a team desperate for revenge but the Wolverines didn’t do their part in the crosstown showdown.
UVU started the season testing itself on the road against national powerhouses in Kentucky and Duke. Yet this game, the fifth played between the two schools, separated by 5 miles of the same road, and the first ever in Orem, looked too big for them. And in front of a sellout crowd of 7,574, the Wolverines faltered.
“Were you guys as miserable as I was?” Pope asked reporters. “It was miserable.”
The Cougars, determined to avoid another upset, came out with a defensive intensity they lacked last season, and a plan to keep UVU off the 3-point line. In the end, the Wolverines committed 17 turnovers leading to 20 points. And while UVU shot 1-of-8 from beyond the arc, the Cougars knocked down 12 of their 26 attempts from 3-point territory.
Childs continued his impressive play of late for the Cougars. The sophomore is averaging better than 21 points per game over his past four contests.
“He showed a lot of the work he put in during the summer,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “The thing I liked about Yo was just how determined he was consistently throughout the game.”
BYU also got an unexpected boost from guard McKay Cannon. The junior transfer from Weber State got word from the NCAA at 3:20 p.m. Wednesday that he would receive a waiver and would be eligible to play for the Cougars this season. The coaching staff told Cannon’s teammates about the news on the bus ride to Orem, but planned to only play Cannon if their other guards got into foul trouble.
When that happened late in the first half, Cannon came in and proved he was ready for more. On his first attempt, the guard drained a long 3-pointer. He went on to finish with eight points and a game-high six assists.
“It was kind of a blur,” he said. “… I just love this team, so I’m grateful to be part of it and play with them.”
UVU was led by 16 points from guard Brandon Randolph. Wolverine guard Jake Toolson scored 14 points and center Akolda Manyang added 11 in the loss.
With one win over an in-state opponent under their belts, BYU will be looking for more as they prepare for upcoming games with Utah State, Weber State, and Utah over the next few weeks.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Childs said.