BYU 85, Utah 62
PROVO, Utah (AP)—Keena Young had 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists to lead Brigham Young past Utah 85-62 Saturday, clinching the Cougars’ first outright regular-season conference title in 19 years.
BYU (23-7, 13-3 Mountain West Conference) shot 59 percent and swept the state rivalry series for the first time since 1994. The Cougars also won for the 31st straight time at home.
BYU won for the ninth time in 10 games and athletic director Tom Holmoe presented the Cougars with the MWC championship trophy before the Cougars cut down the nets. BYU hadn’t won a league title outright in the regular season since going 13-3 in the WAC in 1988.
Utah (11-18, 6-10 MWC) was playing its final regular season game under coach Ray Giacoletti, who resigned the day before. Giacoletti will coach the Utes for however long they last in the Mountain West tournament next week.
Johnnie Bryant led the Utes with 18 points and Ricky Johns, Utah’s only senior, scored 11.
The Utes looked inspired early and led three times in the first half before unraveling and falling behind 37-26 by halftime. BYU blew it open in the second half by going 18-for-26 and 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
Sam Burgess scored 15, Trent Plaisted added 13 points and Austin Ainge had 11 points and four assists in his final home game.
The Cougars had already clinched the top seed in the MWC tournament because they owned the tiebreaker over UNLV, but the only way BYU could claim the league’s regular-season title outright was to beat the Utes.
For the last 30 minutes, it was hardly even close. Young made a layup that put the Cougars up 44-28 and got the fans chanting “M-V-P!” for BYU’s leading scorer.
Mike Rose added a 3-pointer to open an 18-2 run a few minutes later. After Rose’s shot from the left corner, Jonathan Tavernari made a layup, Ainge made 3-pointer and Jimmy Balderson added another from beyond the arc that gave BYU a 55-35 lead with 13:26 left.
The Utes opened the second half 2-for-11 from the floor and went without a field goal from Johns’ jumper with 16:13 left to a layup by Green with 9:26 remaining. By then BYU led 64-40.