The Utah Valley Wolverines and BYU Cougars might not play one another for quite some time. And for the Cougars, that might be a good thing.
Wednesday night at the UCCU Center, the crosstown rivals met for the final time in the contracted series. A series where the contract has not and most likely won’t be renewed for some time.
This makes what happened at the Marriott Center even sweeter.
Justin Harmon had a game-high 19 points to lead Utah Valley to a 75-60 win at BYU in front of 13,925 fans at the Marriott Center on Wednesday night.
It is the second straight year that Utah Valley has beat BYU in the UCCU Crosstown Clash.
“BYU is a great team and they are extremely tough at home,” said Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen. “Our guys played well and shot the ball well. We played with great passion. We have great respect for the BYU program. I can’t say enough about the players in this program. Every player that went on the court tonight contributed.”
Coming into Wednesday night, the scouting report said Utah Valley was not a good shooting team from the perimeter. The Wolverines were shooting around the Mendoza Line. At least that is what Voice of the Cougars Greg Wrubell continued to point out on the Cougar pre-game show.
But, Utah Valley put Wrubell and the Cougars in their place. The Wolverines hit three of their first four shots from the perimeter to take a 9-6 lead early. Harmon, Trey Woodbury and Aziz Bandaogo all knocked down 3-pointer. Tim Ceaser got into the mix with a 3-pointer of his own with 10:19 to play.
Bandaogo’s second 3-pointer of the night tied things up at 30 with 4:26 to play.
But, a taunting technical on Justin Harmon and a turnover allowed BYU to take a 34-30 lead with 3:41 to play in the half. A pair of Dallin Hall free throws gave BYU its largest lead of the game at 38-32 with six seconds remaining in the half.
But, Cam Alford grabbed an offensive rebound and said the bank was open as he hit a buzzer-beating shot to cut the deficit to four at the break.
And out of the break, Justin Harmon took over to start the second half. Harmon scored eight of Utah Valley’s first 11 points. Aziz Bandaogo’s free throw gave Utah valley a 46-45 lead with 12:24 to play. And Tahj Small’s bucket followed by Tim Ceaser’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to six with 11:04 to play.
And BYU never recovered. Layups by Harmon and Tahj Small pushed the lead to 10 with 9:55 to play.
And after BYU cut the deficit to six with 8:22 to play, Blaze Nield reminded BYU fans what they lost when Nield transferred from BYU to Utah Valley. Nield knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing to push the lead back to nine points with 7:17 to play.
And 28 seconds later, Tarleton transfer Tahj Small really put BYU away.
Taking a nearly full court pass from Blaze Nield, Small drove the baseline and threw down a one-handed dunk over BYU freshman and former UVU signee Trey Stewart.
— WACHoopsDigest (@WACHoopsDigest) December 8, 2022
Game. Set. Match.
And just for good measure, the icing on the cake, Aziz Bandaogo’s dunk with 34 seconds left had the BYU faithful scurrying for the exits.
Trey Woodbury and Blaze Nield finished the night off with four straight free throws and the celebration was on.
Along with Harmon, Bandaogo finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Blaze Nield finished with 10 points off the bench. Trey Woodbury had seven points, six rebounds and three assists in the win. The Wolverines were 11-24 from 3-point land and shot 52.2 percent from the field on Wednesday night.
With the win, Utah Valley jumped from 198 in the NET to 134.
The Wolverines go on the road to Flagstaff on Saturday. Utah Valley faces Northern Arizona in the final leg of a home-and-home series with the Lumberjacks. The Wolverines won the first meeting in Orem on Nov. 12.