SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Yoeli Childs turned a rivalry game between BYU and Utah into his own personal highlight reel.
Childs dominated on both ends of the court in leading the Cougars to a 74-59 victory over the Utes on Saturday. Whatever Utah had in its defensive scouting report on the junior forward didn’t cover enough ground.
For 40 minutes, Childs threw down ferocious dunks, knocked down jumpers, wrestled away rebounds, and set teammates up for easy baskets. He finished with 31 points for a third consecutive game after shooting 13 of 16 from the field. Childs also added 11 rebounds to earn his seventh double-double of the season.
Making that sort of all-around impact to help BYU beat the Utes for the second straight year was icing on the cake for the Cougars’ big man.
“Everybody wants to say it’s just another game, right?” Childs said. “It’s a game where you go out and lose and you got a bunch of little kids that are sad at home all night. It’s a little bit more than your average game.”
T.J. Haws added 18 points and six rebounds, while Zac Seljaas chipped in with 14 points, six rebounds and five steals for the Cougars. BYU (7-4) has now won two straight after beating in-state rival Utah State on Wednesday.
Sedrick Barefield scored 16 points and Timmy Allen added 13 for the Utes. Utah (4-4) lost after shooting just 36.5 percent from the field.
Childs didn’t waste any time ripping apart Utah’s defense. He connected on his first five field-goal attempts to give BYU’s offense a quick spark. The junior forward accounted for his team’s first 12 points.
Seljaas followed Childs’ opening barrage with back-to-back baskets and a pair of free throws to put the Cougars up 19-14.
BYU played with more fire than at earlier times in the season, starting from the opening tip.
“We have lacked emotion. We have lacked urgency and togetherness and energy,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “These types of games, for me personally, I kind of fear all that energy because then we’re a little bit out of control and we’re not executing. But I really encouraged them because that’s the run we’re on. That’s what this team needs to do.”
A cold-shooting spell opened the door for Utah to stay within striking distance throughout the first half. BYU missed eight consecutive baskets and went 6:39 without a field goal before Haws finally ended the drought with a 3-pointer. The Utes answered with an 8-0 run during that stretch and took a 22-19 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from Barefield and Riley Battin.
BYU went back in front 27-22 on Haws’ 3-pointer off the dribble and another outside basket from Connor Harding on the team’s subsequent possession. That set the stage for the Cougars to build a comfortable second-half lead.
Childs scored three baskets, highlighted by his first 3-pointer of the game, to fuel a 13-0 run that gave BYU a 45-28 lead with 14:17 left in the second half.
“I know we didn’t have anybody that could stop him,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “There were times we sent two guys at him and we still couldn’t stop him. He’s a willing passer. He puts you in a dilemma as a coaching staff any time you play him.”
Utah missed seven straight shots to open the half before Donnie Tillman and Both Gach scored back-to-back baskets to break the ice. The Utes closed the gap to 54-46 on two straight baskets from Barefield.
BYU slammed the door on a comeback by answering with seven straight baskets. Haws fueled the barrage with three of them. His final jumper gave the Cougars a 72-52 lead.
Before tipoff, BYU guard Nick Emery made a point of approaching Krystkowiak and engaging a friendly chat. He also spoke with the Utah coach after the game.
Emery punching Utah guard Brandon Taylor in a 2015 game originally led Krystkowiak to suspend the rivalry series for a year before it was finally revived in 2016. The two mended fences via text messages a year ago when Emery reached out to make an apology.
Krystkowiak said he’s happy that Emery is back on the court for BYU again after sitting out a year and then serving a nine-game suspension this year for NCAA rules violations.
“It’s not something that’s made up,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s not for TV. It’s just real life, being involved with sports. A lot of emotion. A learning experience for both of us. I think we’re better for it.”
A DIFFERENT TEAM
BYU is 2-0 since Emery returned to the lineup. The junior guard didn’t make a major statistical impact in Saturday’s game, finishing with zero points in 12 minutes. But his presence in the locker room and in practice has given the Cougars renewed energy.
Rose said he knew bringing back Emery to the program wouldn’t come without scrutiny. He originally withdrew from the program during the 2017-18 season and served a nine-game suspension this season for accepting gifts from boosters in violation of NCAA rules. BYU was given two years probation and forced to vacate 47 wins from Emery’s first two seasons in the program.
For Rose, getting Emery back in the fold was a move he needed to do.
“Nick completes this team,” Rose said. “The fact that he’s back and we’re rolling, it feels good. We’re whole and we’re together.”
THE BIG PICTURE
BYU: The Cougars looked like a new team against their in-state rivals. Childs dominated on both ends of the court and BYU was active in getting to loose balls and cleaning the glass. The Cougars have a chance to build some real momentum before WCC play.
Utah: It ended up being the same old story for the Utes. Utah couldn’t knock down shots for long stretches and had no answer for many of BYU’s key playmakers. The Utes need to find some consistent options on offense before the entire season gets away from them.