PROVO, Utah – Texas Southern put up a tough fight from start to finish but couldn’t get over the hump down the stretch as BYU defeated the Tigers 87-71 Monday night at the Marriott Center.
BYU opened the game by going inside and feeding 7-3 center Matt Haarms as he scored six of BYU’s first 10 points for an early 10-4 lead. The Tigers made the adjustments defensively and cooled Haarms down and was back within 12-9 after baskets by Galen Alexander and John Walker III. However, BYU countered with an 11-2 run over the next 2:37 and pushed its lead up to 26-13 after a three-point basket. The Tigers would draw to within 29-19 at the 10:10 mark thanks to Yahuza Rasas’ four points but BYU would maintain its double-digit lead throughout the half. As the half came to a close, TSU’s defense picked up and held BYU to only two points over the final 2:25 while TSUs Michael Weathers and Rasas combined for five points during the same span to send TSU down 42-32 at the break.
BYU would outscore TSU 17-7 over the first six minutes of the second half as its lead grew to as much as 22 (61-39). However, the Tigers fought back with a vengeance over the next six-and-half-minutes as five players scored to key an 18-8 run which saw BYU’s lead dwindle to 69-60 with six minutes left after a pair of Quinton Brigham free throws.
However, BYU’s Brandon Averette was a thorn in TSU’s side all game long as he hit a three-pointer on the ensuing possession followed by a layup to push the lead back to 14 nearly a minute later. TSU would draw to within 13 but Averette’s shooting was the difference down the stretch as BYU closed the game and won for the third time in series history.
Statistically, Weathers led TSU with 23 points, six steals and five assists while Rasas had TSU’s first double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds. John Walker III added 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. As a team, TSU was nearly-perfect from the free throw line as they shot 19-of-21.
The Tigers are back in action this Saturday afternoon at LSU. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. and the contest will be shown live on the SEC Network.