BYU men score 66-60 victory over San Diego State in Provo
Provo • As the BYU men’s basketball team looks to the future in the Big 12 with a sparkling new recruit, the Cougars returned to their roots Friday night with a 66-point win over old rivals San Diego State at the Marriott Center -60.
The Cougars ended the week in victory after signing the signature of four-star shooting guard Collin Chandler, who is number 36 in the class of 2022 according to the 247sports Composite, on Wednesday. The 6-foot-5 Chandler is the highest-rated recruit in the program’s history and has fans rave about its potential.
In the short term, BYU outlasted a swarming SDSU defense by reinforcing the defense itself.
The game was back and forth the entire time, with both defenses leaving few opportunities to play in the transition period. As the game progressed, it developed into a defensive battle in which every basket earned in the half field became more valuable. Neither team shot the ball well as both shot 39% off the field. Behind the 3-point line, the shooting problems were even worse (BYU: 22%, SDSU: 14%).
The Cougars let the Aztecs pay in the offensive glass and scored 17 points for the second chance.
BYU head coach Mark Pope noted that the SDSU were unbeaten last season when they outperformed their opponents. The Cougars had 42 rebounds compared to 38 for the Aztecs.
“We knew we had to win on the glass, which says something because this is an elite rebound team,” Pope told reporters after the game.
With its efforts on the glass and in defense, the BYU has shown that it does not only depend on the 3-point shot to fight against good defenses.
“You are not going to beat San Diego State 4 for 18 from the 3-point line. It just isn’t you. But these guys did, ”said Pope.
The Cougars also curbed sales after giving up on their win over Cleveland State 15 earlier this week. BYU flipped it 11 times on Friday.
“For us to play against a state of San Diego and only have 11 losses, only four in the second half, with the pressure and the disturbance and all the things that they do … it was a great effort and a great basketball game “Said Pope called.
Friday’s win was a statement that the Cougars are ready to compete with NCAA tournament teams even if no shots are fired.
How far can Barcello take the Cougars’ offensive?
Alex Barcello looked like the only cougar who could consistently get to his seats against the SDSU defense. The senior guard drilled his two 3-point field goals in the first half, although he was picked up in the backcourt after every Aztec basket.
BYU’s offense can only be as productive as Barcello, who ended up with 17 points in the 6-out-of-10 shooting, can do it in 2021. Te’jon Lucas (13 points, 2-of-12 FG) and Seneca Knight (8 points, 3-of-7 FG) both had nice moments outside of dribbling, but struggled to maintain constant rim pressure against the long, athletic ones Produce wings of the SDSU. Lucas made a costly mistake late, over-dribbling and giving up a simple layup to keep the Aztecs in the game.
The Cougars looked at risk of getting a shot clock violation on more than a few possessions while Barcello rested.
Still, Barcello was able to generate enough attack to drive the Aztecs away. The senior single-handedly broke the SDSU press and made good decisions with the ball.
The senior injected a massive 3-pointer in motion to give BYU a three-point lead within four minutes. A few minutes later, he snaked his way through a pick-and-roll, got up, and nailed a sweater just over the free-throw line to bring the Cougars five. When the cougars need a big throw, they’ll turn to Barcello. Tonight he proved he can meet her.
“They are a really great team,” said Barcello after the game. “I think just sticking to our offensive, keeping the flow … our team as a whole did a really good job being aware of that.”
He’s a smart player who almost never takes a bad shot, and the Cougars may need him to be more aggressive against high-level defenses like SDSU.
A breakthrough for Fousseyni Traore
Mali-born freshman center Fousseyni Traore had the best game of his young career, scoring 9 points on 4-of-6 and taking eight rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass. Traore made it in the first half with lazy problems, but consistently showed his skills as an offensive rebounder and rolling hazard.
Traore caught and finished a nice feed from Barcello and turned a post in the left block with a soft hook shot on the next possession. After 6-foot-11, UNLV transfer Richard Harward suffered from cardiovascular problems that could put him out of action for long periods of time. Traore showed that even as a newbie he can influence the games inside.
Traore played 6-foot-7 forward Keshad Johnson on the sidelines in the second half, which drew a roar from the crowd and was active in defense throughout the game.
Senior Gavin Baxter started the game in the center, but Traore played more minutes throughout. He can get a bigger role in the future as long as he can stay out of bad problems.
“We had a rookie out there holding the position in an NCAA tournament game out here,” said Pope. “It’s as real as it gets. … He’s really talented. “
Caleb Lohner made perhaps the biggest basket in the game, grabbing an offensive rebound and turning it back up and over a defender with less than two minutes on the clock. He only scored six points on the 3-of-12 shooting, but was consistently active on both ends.
“At least tonight we had the ability to focus on the essentials,” added Pope. “I’m really proud of that, because it’s actually a very telling thing for a team.”