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BYU basketball: Childs' play produces late-season hope for Cougars

Published February 13, 2017 6:42 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It was suggested by one scribe who covers West Coast Conference basketball that Yoeli Childs was a front-runner for the league's Player of the Week honors after the BYU freshman scored 23 points and grabbed 17 rebounds — both career highs — in Saturday's 68-52 win over San Francisco.

That was never going to happen, considering the Cougars lost 99-83 to Pepperdine two days before that and Childs played just 16 minutes and scored just six points, due to foul problems.

But it was telling nevertheless, because without Childs' phenomenal game the Cougars probably would have lost. They committed 16 turnovers and assisted on just seven of 24 field goals.

Oddly enough, Pepperdine's Lamond Murray Jr. picked up the honor, having scored 30 points against BYU on Thursday and 17 against San Diego on Saturday. The senior was 10 of 20 against BYU but just 6 of 15 against USD.

Childs said he prayed before the game not to get a lot of rebounds or points, but to "not get fouls."

It worked. He didn't pick up a single foul while playing a career-high 39 minutes.Take away his 10 of 16 shooting, and the Cougars were just 14 of 36 from the field.

Defensively, the Cougars played much better than they did Thursday night, but got some help from the Dons. Pepperdine scored as many points in the first half, 52, than USF did the entire game. And the Dons only broke 50 when Frankie Ferrari hit a 3-pointer with six seconds left.

"We just focused on blocking out on defense and remembering that we have each other's back. Because, with a couple of these losses, guys don't get each other's help. Guys weren't helping, because they were worried someone else isn't going to have their guy," Childs said. "So today we just said, 'everyone is going to help each other. Do your job and rely on your teammates to do their job.' And it worked out.'"

What's significant about Childs' shooting Saturday was that several of the shots were mid- and long-range jumpers, and he canned them.

"Coach was giving me a lot of confidence," he said. "We tweaked the offense a little bit, and they just said: 'Keep shooting. If you miss a couple in a row, then stop. But if you are hitting them keep shooting them.' Coaches gave me a lot of confidence, and then just putting extra work in after practice helped me. … I always bring confidence, but my coaches were giving me a lot of confidence the last couple of days with a couple little tweaks on offense. They told me to keep shooting those midrange jumpers and if they are not falling, then pass it or go to the rim. But if they are, keep shooting."

It was apparent early that USF was trying to get under TJ Haws' skin with some physical play, some of it borderline dirty. On one particular time down the floor, Charles Minlend flat-out ran over Haws.

Officials missed that, but noticed the two players trying to get untangled after the collision and called a foul on both.

"He ran me over, and then we got tangled up, and then they called a double foul," Haws said, shrugging. "I thought we came out and we were really tough mentally tonight and I thought that was the difference for us."

Later in the game, coach Dave Rose's disgust with the officiating grew more after star center Eric Mika was hit with his fourth foul — and almost a disqualifying fifth foul.

Mika was whistled for a foul while trying to get position on an inbounds play. A split second after the whistle blew, Mika dunked the basketball. That drew a technical foul, but it wasn't a fifth foul because officials ruled it a "Class B" technical foul. Rose took Mika out of the game, but put him back in a few minutes later.

And he gave referee Tom Spitznagel an earful.

"I thought it was kind of a bang-bang play, and with Eric, he didn't know who the foul was called on. He didn't know if it was him or the other guy and he was trying to continue the play and maybe get an and-one. … There was no reason for [the technical]. The other night there was a dunk way later that I got upset at — way later after the call. Two dribbles and a fly by, and whack. But not called. I was a little upset."




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