PROVO, Utah — The Colorado Buffaloes did a commendable job on Brigham Young big man Eric Mika. But it wasn’t nearly enough to keep the Cougars from dominating the Buffs on the boards.
Mika, BYU’s super sophomore, entered Saturday night’s contest averaging 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds with a .593 shooting percentage. CU held him to 17 points and seven rebounds on a 3-for-11 night from the floor, but it wasn’t enough to stop BYU from dominating the paint.
“He had to work for everything he got,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “But we didn’t do a very good job on (Nick) Emery. Yoeli Childs got off on us. Seventy-one points on the road is good enough to win.”
Emery helped shoot BYU into the lead with three 3-pointers in the first half, eventually finishing with a team-leading 22 points. Childs recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds while Mika, despite five turnovers, managed to contribute a game-high six assists and three blocked shots.
The Buffs’ primary post player, senior Wesley Gordon, was a non-factor, finishing with just three points and five rebounds.
One promising sign for CU was the play of its bench, which made its greatest collective contribution of the season.
Sophomore guard Thomas Akyazili helped pick up the slack when Derrick White was forced to the bench in the second half with four fouls. Though Akyazili was just 1-for-4 from the floor, he knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season and helped spur the Buffs’ rally early in the second half, finishing with four assists, two steals, and three rebounds without committing a turnover in 16 minutes.
Tory Miller returned to action after missing Wednesday’s win against Xavier and contributed six points, though he was held without a rebound. And in the first half freshman Lucas Siewert ended a recent shooting slump — he had gone 0-for-8 in the previous four games — by connecting on his first two shots and scoring five points.
“It was good, but when you lose at the end it doesn’t really matter,” Akyazili said. “It felt good, but it would’ve been a thousand times better if we’d won.”
It was another rough night for senior guard Josh Fortune, who went 0-for-6 on 3-pointers and 0-for-8 overall. Fortune, who also had just three rebounds, one assist, and two turnovers in 22 minutes, has gone 0-for-13 in the past two games…With just one assist and two turnovers, point guard Derrick White has compiled 14 assists against 20 turnovers over the past six games…Xavier Johnson’s five rebounds pushed him past current CU radio voice Scott Wilke for 22nd-place on the Buffs’ all-time rebounding list.