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Weber State basketball faces off against Cannon, BYU in Beehive Classic

December 9, 2017

Weber State and BYU basketball teams faced off at Vivint Smart Home Arena in December 2015. As the Cougars won 73-68, WSU freshman guard McKay Cannon started, but his only registered stat was one assist in 10 minutes.

Two years later, Cannon dons BYU blue and is playing a key role for the Cougars as the two teams meet again in the same arena Saturday for the first Beehive Classic.

The new event, launched by the parent company of the Utah Jazz, pits Utah against Utah State at 5:30 p.m. and BYU-Weber tips at 8 p.m. The teams will rotate to play each other once in the space of three seasons.

“We’re excited to be part of it; there’s no question,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “We were the first ones on board when they started throwing it around. We put our names in the hat right away. It will be a fun day for the state of Utah, for the teams and their fans.”

BEEHIVE CLASSIC: Jazz launch Beehive Classic basketball event

Cannon suddenly finds himself a rising star in Provo. The 6-foot guard started more than 30 consecutive games for Weber State, but as a sophomore last year lost that job to Cody John and, eventually, hardly saw the floor as Jerrick Harding emerged as a primetime player for the Wildcats.

Cannon’s shooting percentages dipped to 38 percent overall and 35 percent from deep. His sophomore campaign was simply not good and, after the season, he transferred to BYU as a walk-on.

“It was totally a mutual deal. We never left on bad terms, by any means,” Rahe said. “I love that kid to death and I know he feels good about his time at Weber State.”

By rule, Cannon was expected to sit out the entire 2017-18 season. But on the afternoon of Nov. 29, the NCAA cleared him to play immediately. Four hours later, he scored 8 points and dished six assists in 20 minutes as BYU demolished Utah Valley 85-58.

In three games for the Cougars (7-2), he averages 9.7 points and 25 minutes per contest. If both hold for the season, they would register as career highs.

“I couldn’t be happier for him,” Rahe said. “He had a tough year for us last year, as everybody knows. But a change of scenery sometimes helps a kid get that mojo back, get that work ethic and swagger back. I’m really happy for him because he’s a great kid ... and he’s going to be a good player for them.”

Still, the biggest obstacle for Weber State (4-4) is sophomore big man Yoeli Childs. At a long 6-foot-8, Childs has emerged as the Cougars’ top scorer (16.9 points per game) and rebounder (8.8). He also swats 2.4 shots per contest.

“He’s versatile,” Rahe said. “He’s shooting 3s a little now, stretching it out. He’s an absolutely explosive scorer around the rim and can score in a lot of ways.

“You put on top of that, he’s an outstanding rebounder because of his explosiveness and strength, and he can score a lot on offensive stick-backs ... I think his versatility is going to cause us problems.”

BYU has won 13 straight in the series. Rahe has never defeated the Cougars, with Weber State’s last win coming in 2003.

The game tips at 8 p.m. and will air on TV and online through BYUtv.

UTAH vs. UTAH STATE

Utah (6-2) takes on Utah State (5-5) for the first time since 2010, a USU win. It’s the 224th meeting (Utah leads the series 128-95), but it’s the first time the two teams will meet on a neutral court.

That game tips at 5:30 p.m. and will air on Pac-12 Network.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at Facebook.com/BrettHeinWrites.