Byford Leads UCO Past Fort Hays State
The University of Central Oklahoma defeated the Fort Hays State Tigers 81-57 on Saturday, behind 22 points from Corbin Byford.
UCO Head Coach Tom Hankins said Byford had a great game, not only offensively, with 22 points and 13 rebounds, but also defensively. Byford matched up with Hadley Gillum, who averages 16.8 points per game on 50 percent shooting. Saturday evening against the Bronchos though, Gillum scored only six points while shooting 3-10 from the field.
With under four minutes to go in the game, the Bronchos grabbed an offensive rebound and guard Jordan Hemphill surveyed the court as UCO started setting up their next play. Hemphill eyed Byford and just as they made eye contact, Byford cut to the basket as the two connected on an alley-oop.
The basket put the Bronchos up 74-55, with that play summarizing what UCO was able to do all night.
UCO got to the basket and the foul line all game, with a 27-3 difference in free throw attempts and a 38-16 advantage in points in the paint.
“Coming out the second half, we made shots early and jumped on them and stayed on them,” Hankins said.
Hankins said the Tigers are a smaller team compared to last year and that is something he felt his team needed to exploit.
“We were bigger, a little bit more athletic than them, so we were able to get a lot of offensive rebounds, which also caused them to foul quite a bit,” Hankins said.
Hankins said Byford had a great game, not only offensively, with 22 points and 13 rebounds, but also defensively. Byford matched up with Hadley Gillum, who averages 16.8 points per game on 50 percent shooting. Saturday evening against the Bronchos though, Gillum scored only six points while shooting 3-10 from the field.
“I thought our defensive effort was great,” Hankins said. “They have a hard time matching up with us.”
UCO’s game plan from the jump was to attack the paint. The Bronchos consistently drove the lane and when the lane wasn’t open, UCO swung the ball around the perimeter and tried to hit their bigs in the post.
While the Bronchos ended up pulling away in the second half, outscoring the Tigers 47-27, the first half was a different story.
One of the strengths all year for the Bronchos has been their ability to hit 3-pointers. They are having one of the best years in school history, shooting 3-pointers at a 37 percent clip. However in the first half, UCO failed to hit any 3-pointers, missing all five of their attempts.
UCO jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead over Fort Hays State behind an attentive Jake Hammond. The Bronchos center was calling out plays left and right, shutting down every play the Lions tried to run.
With the Tigers struggling to find any space offensively, Fort Hays State Head Coach Mark Johnson substituted in KeShawn Wilson. Wilson scored five quick points and just minutes later, the Tigers had cut the Bronchos lead to three.
The Tigers scored only eight points in the paint, mainly settling for 3’s and midrange jump shots, but Fort Hays was only down four at the half.
Hankins said his team came out of the break more energetic and because of the Bronchos athletic ability forcing the Tigers to foul, he said they were able to pull away.
UCO plays at Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday as the Bronchos look for their fourth straight win.