The University of Colorado men’s basketball team (7-3) fell on the road to the Brigham Young University Cougars (7-3) on Saturday night in Provo, Utah, 79-71.
Colorado played a tough contest for the most part. The game stood 40-38 in BYU’s favor at the half after a hard-fought 20 minutes. But the Cougars began to pull away once play resumed.
The Buffs weren’t discouraged, however — the team fought back and was even able to capitalize on a big run and take a small lead. BYU traded baskets with Colorado until the home team was up 64-62 with 7:18 remaining in the game. Sophomore guard Thomas Akyazili drove through the lane and went for a layup.
The Cougars’ Eric Mika went up and stopped the ball, but ended up hitting the backboard with his hands. No call was initially whistled by the refs, but a timeout was taken to review if it had been goaltending.
Upon review, the call stood. Broadcasters on ESPN2 argued that it should have been called goaltending, but the score remained 64-62 BYU.
That seemed to signal the end for the Buffs.
The Cougars finished the half on a strong play, which Colorado was unable to stop or match. Not benefiting the Buffs was the fact that senior guard Derrick White was being kept out due to foul trouble.
White’s issues weren’t isolated. The referees seemed to have a penchant for calling fouls this game, with Colorado going to the line 20 times on the night. BYU went to the line 29 times as well, resulting in 46 personal foul calls total between the two teams.
The Buffs could have used White’s help. After his strongest game of the year against Xavier, White had a stellar first half. Even missing time, the guard led the team in points, totaling 22.
Colorado got bullied in the paint all night. BYU used a taller lineup, featuring forwards Mika and Yoeli Childs. This led to the Buffs being out-rebounded 46-31. The Cougars also feasted on the offensive glass, allowing themselves a lot of second-chance opportunities.
Unable to get reliable shots close to the basket, Colorado took a lot of chances from deep. Against its last game against Xavier, Colorado had a fairly reliable three-point shot, making 45 percent. Against BYU, a completely different story emerged. The Buffs converted on only 7-of-29 attempts from downtown, putting them at a measly 24.1 percent from behind the arc.
Junior guard George King had a double-double on the night. He finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Senior guard Xavier Johnson finished with 17 points. Two of those points may have been the highlight of the night.
Johnson took a chance and drove into the paint. Not only were the two BYU forwards there, but other Cougar defenders made their way over to try and stop the drive. Johnson wasn’t willing to back down. He found enough space and sent down a one-handed slam. But overall, the Cougars took home the W.
Colorado will look to rebound next Saturday, Dec. 17, when the team hosts Fort Hays State in the Coors Events Center. Tipoff is scheduled for noon (MST).
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Jake Mauff at email@example.com.