BYU-Utah: Cougars Beat Down Utes To Even the All-Time Series

David LynnCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2010

LAS VEGAS - FEBRUARY 06:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young University Cougars shoots a free throw during a game against the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center February 6, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UNLV won 88-74.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Being a fan of college sports can have major ups and downs—especially in basketball.

All it takes is an injury or two, a couple of guys leaving school early, or a couple years of bad recruiting, and your hopes of any kind of success go out the window.

Luckily, as a BYU fan, this has been a very up year. They reached the top 25 early in the season and have managed to stay there since then. If I am not mistaken, they even cracked the top 10 once.

Like any season, there have been a couple of tough losses, but they came against quality opponents and did not do too much damage to our résumé.

When BYU sits down at the beginning of the year to decide their goals for the season, I imagine that the first two on the list will be to win a conference championship and to get a bid to the NCAA tournament. These are pretty obvious goals for any team.

If I had to guess what No. 3 on the list would be, I would say it would be quite simple: beat Utah.

There is something about rivalry that sits at the heart of sports. No matter how good or bad your season is, if you can beat your rival, your season was not a complete failure. On the other hand, if you lose to your rival, that means you, and your fans, will hear about it for at least a year. It is not the type of burden that anyone wants to carry.

Last night, BYU made sure that their fans would not have to carry that burden. They beat Utah for the second time this season, and in very convincing fashion.

Utah had a successful marketing ploy to get fans to the game, billing it as a revenge game, and put nearly 15,000 fans in the stands, the most since 2005, so at least something good came from this game for them.

Other than that, it was all BYU. They didn’t even play that well offensively, shooting only 36.8 percent, but their defense more than made up for it. They held Utah to a meager 26.9 percent and forced 17 turnovers.

What may be even more exciting leading into the upcoming tournaments was the play off the bench.

Jimmer Fredette struggled, going only 1-of-7 from the field and scoring only eight points. It probably didn’t help that he had to come out early with foul trouble, but not to worry—his sub more than filled in the gap.

Michael Lloyd Jr. came out and exploded all over the court, nearly outscoring the Utes in the first half all by himself. He put up 18 points off the bench and was just the spark that this team needed. This is coming off of the 19 that he put up against New Mexico. It seems that he has found his niche, and he is filling it well.

He also got some help from freshman Brandon Davies, who put up 21, including 13 in the second half.

This game really gives me hope as we near our trip to Vegas, and ultimately the big dance. In order for a team like BYU to succeed, we have to have support from the entire team.

In the past, we have relied on one or two people to play well in order for us to win; Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted come to mind. But now we have seen that our scoring can come from any number of places, and that is huge for us.

We don’t have a single player that will just take over games on a regular basis, though Jimmer has shown he can do it, and personally I like it this way. It is fun to see everyone getting involved and playing as a team.

I realize this game wasn’t huge in the grand scheme of things since Utah was not very good, but every win counts towards a better seed; and beating Utah is always fun, no matter what the ramifications are.