Provo • When asked a day before going into the final in-state matchup of the season what he wanted for Christmas, BYU coach Mark Pope said he just wanted to win.
Come Saturday, Pope got what he wished for and the Cougars rolled past Weber State 91-61 for their fourth straight victory. But it wasn’t Santa who delivered.
Instead, Yoeli Childs went into his bag of tricks and pulled out a record-breaking performance.
The senior’s first-half 10-for-10 FG performance set a BYU record for most field goals made without a miss in the first half and tied the record for either half. Teammate Jake Toolson’s uncle, former BYU great Danny Ainge, once had a 10-for-10 FG second half.
Childs got into foul trouble late in the game, which led to the forward missing the last 51/2 minutes, but still finished with 28 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
“What I was most impressed with Yoeli, was his ball-screen and his ball-first defense was unbelievable, and his transition defense looked really, really solid the whole night,” Pope said. “You see him bringing that part of his game to the forefront – that’s the part of his game that’s going to sell him. He’s already done everything offensively that you could hope or want from a player. The pace with which he’s playing on the defensive end, he’s growing so much, literally, day by day.”
The Cougars also set a team record with their best first-half shooting (80% FG) ever.
Although the Wildcats were first to score, BYU started throwing big punches early. Alex Barcello and Jake teamed up to score the first three Cougar baskets — all long-range shots.
“We were just sharing the ball, and guys were hitting open shots and Yoeli was killing it down low and we were really pushing in transition and they were having a hard time getting back,” Barcello said of the team’s first-half performance.
The second half didn’t start as great for the Cougars.
BYU started 2 of 5 and was forced to call a timeout after the Wildcats went on an 8-2 run.
Weber State also started putting a lot more pressure on Childs and got the senior forward to start missing shots. As did the rest of the team.
BYU, which led by as many as 28 soon after the second half started, watched as Weber State continued chipping away, cutting its deficit down to 17 points. But Dalton Nixon hit back-to-back shots on a layup and 3-pointer to put the Cougars back up by 22 points.
Nixon saw his first start since Childs made his return Dec. 4. Kolby Lee, whom Nixon filled in for, suffered a knee injury during practice. After the game, Pope said he is hopeful the Cougars can get Lee back in time for their next game in a week.
Although the Wildcats continued to try to claw their way out of the hole, BYU didn’t let up.
In total, five Cougars finished in the double digits. Childs was joined by Barcello, who scored a career-best 18 points; Nixon (11); Connor Harding (11) and Toolson (10).
Although TJ Haws fell just short of scoring double digits (9), he provided a highlight-reel play with a steal and breakaway dunk toward the end of the game.
For Childs, that was the best dunk he had ever seen – hands down.
“I’m making that my screensaver,” Childs said. “I need a poster. If my wife’s OK with it, I may name my first son Tyson. I don’t know – that was sick.”
The win will definitely make Pope’s Christmas a little sweeter. The first-year coach said this will most likely be the last time the entire Pope family is together for the holidays.
“I told the guys after the game, in a personal way, I’m super grateful,” Pope said. “I’m pretty simple. If we win Christmas, great; if we lose Christmas, not so great.”