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No. 18 BYU aims for solid shooting effort in clash vs. Georgia State

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BYU’s slump didn’t last long.

After a rough shooting night led to a loss at rival Utah last Saturday, the No. 18 Cougars (9-1) looked much more like themselves in Wednesday’s 90-74 win over Denver.

Reserve Jaxson Robinson drained eight 3-pointers and scored 28 points, while Noah Waterman added 20 points and 14 rebounds to lift BYU to a bounce-back victory over the Pioneers.

“I think this game really helped us get back to who we were. The Utah game was kind of slow for us,” Waterman said. “I think this will just help us get back to who we were.”

The Cougars, who shot 50 percent from the floor, have another chance to polish up their game Saturday at home in Provo against Georgia State (4-5). They will then begin play in their first Big 12 season in a few weeks.

“It was a good atmosphere, especially after a tough loss last weekend,” Robinson said of Wednesday’s Marriott Center crowd. “I feel like the team played great. … I have great teammates, great coaches that have my back whether the shot is falling or not. I’m really blessed to be able to say I have these guys as teammates and coaches. Shots were falling tonight. There are going to be nights where they don’t fall, but they have confidence in me to shoot them.”

Spencer Johnson chipped in 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. He teamed with Robinson to limit Denver’s top scorer, Tommy Bruner, to only 15 points — nine below his average for the season.

“He’s an elite-level scorer, and he’s really talented,” BYU coach Mark Pope said of Bruner. “But I thought the tandem of those guys was elite level tonight, especially in the first half. It was a good clinic defensively.”

Georgia State dropped its most recent game on Saturday despite rallying out of an 11-point hole in the second half. The Panthers had multiple attempts to tie the game or take the lead in the final moments before falling 64-60 at Mercer.

“We missed some bunnies from close around the rim at the end of the game that normally would go in, but I’m more thinking about why we were in that situation,” Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes said. “Offensively, we’ll be fine, but have got to find some toughness and some conviction on the defensive end.”

That won’t be an easy task Saturday as the Panthers travel for this tough non-conference challenge against a ranked BYU squad. Georgia State returns to Atlanta for a game vs. Toccoa Falls on Tuesday before starting Sun Belt Conference action later this month.

Lucas Taylor led the Panthers in scoring with 15 points and Leslie Nkereuwem had 11 points versus Mercer.

“I do like the fact that we found a way to fight back, but we were just out-toughed (Saturday),” Hayes said. “This team is still growing, and we’ll get better.”

BYU received potentially good news this week when a West Virginia judge ruled that multiple-time transfers can play now. Highly touted freshman Marcus Adams Jr., who transferred to BYU after non-playing stints with Gonzaga and Kansas, has yet to dress this season as he waited for playing permission from the NCAA.

Pope said the Cougars will wait to find out for sure if Adams can actually play now per the NCAA. He participated in his first full shootaround before the Denver game, though.

“We will see,” Pope said. “We will know more here in the next days and weeks.”

–Field Level Media

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