January 7, 2010 – Provo, UT (Sports Network) – Noah Hartsock and Jonathan Tavernari scored 17 points apiece, as No. 25 BYU held off UNLV, 77-73, to open Mountain West Conference play at the Marriott Center.
Tyler Haws donated 12 points in the victory for the Cougars (15-1, 1-0 MWC), who shot just 36.8 percent on the night but offset that with 19 offensive rebounds.
“Tonight was a good example of how deep we are and how people stepped up when they need to,” Hartsock said. “It just goes to show that we are a team that is going to come out and play hard every night.”
Tre’Von Willis scored a game-high 24 points and added six rebounds and four assists, while Kendall Wallace chipped in with nine points and Oscar Bellfield donated eight points and nine assists for the Rebels (12-3, 0-1).
UNLV held a 69-64 edge at the five-minute mark of the second half, but Michael Loyd, Jr.‘s bucket drew the Cougars within 69-68 with just under three minutes to play. Tavernari’s three-pointer and Loyd’s transition layup capped nine straight points for a 73-69 advantage then Jackson Emery’s tough jumper with 25.7 ticks to go from the top of the key made it a two-possession game once again at 75-71.
Willis then made 1-of-2 free throws at the other end but Haws calmly sank two free throws at the other end to seal the victory.
“We gave them too many second chances. We just need to lock in there, use our size, and block out,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. “Overall, we just really need to get more defensive rebounds and limit second and third opportunities.”
A competitive opening 20 minutes went back and fourth with BYU holding a 17-14 lead halfway in and the game was knotted at 24-24 with just under five minutes to play. BYU held a 33-32 edge at the half.
BYU improved to 9-0 at home this season…UNLV still leads the all-time series, 16-14…The Rebels shot 46 percent from the floor and made 7-of-16 from beyond the arc…BYU shot just 26.8 percent in the first half, but held a one-point edge thanks to a 9-for-9 effort from the charity stripe.