No. 18 BYU basketball without overlooking Winless Texas Southern
PROVO, Utah – For the first time since Jimmer gave Fredette a case of Jimmermania, BYU basketball is gearing up for a top 25 team game in November.
After rolling through a previously rated Oregon roster, BYU climbed to 18th place (4-0) in the AP Top 25. A poll that ranked Mark Pope’s program at the end of the season for the past two years, however never nearly reached blow in the early half of these seasons.
Two of the last four BYU basketball teams placed in the AP Top 25 in November made it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. It creates the conditions for BYU to be a national player during this season.
First things first, deal with business tonight against a Texas Southern squad who competed in last year’s NCAA tournament. Of course, you probably have to squint hard to see that the Tigers were a big dance roster a year ago, considering they start at 5-0.
With rival Utah waiting in the wings on Saturday night, could nationally ranked BYU perhaps have a case of overlooking the Tigers? Mark Pope doesn’t see that.
“You know it’s so interesting; Judging teams for wins and losses is a little bit crazy, “said Mark Pope when talking about Texas Southern. “This team is 0-5. They have led in every single game except the Oregon game. This also includes the lead in the second half in the state of North Carolina, most recently. They led the Air Force, they led Washington – almost won – they led Saint Mary’s and we just saw how good Saint Mary’s is. This team from Texas Southern is really good. “
The Tigers are the fourth team that BYU has faced from their first five games that competed in the previous NCAA tournament in 2020.
“Like Cleveland State, they’re a championship team. They won their conference, won their conference tournament, and then won a game back at the NCAA tournament last year with essentially the entire crew. They are a championship pedigree team. You are in a position right now where you had to take to the streets and play five incredibly difficult games to start the season, and you have been in every single one. I don’t think my guys will stop by them because this Texas Southern team is really good and they are really dangerous. Five times in a row they were close to winning against large teams. So this will be a big challenge for us. “
No. 18 BYU vs. Texas Southern
Top: 7 p.m. (MT)
Location: Marriott Center; Provo
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – pregame starts at 6 p.m.)
Series: BYU leads 3-0
Last meeting: 2020 – BYU 87, Texas Southern 71 in Provo
BYU Basketball goes after opponents on the defensive
For four games this season, BYU basketball has been a pleasant surprise on the defensive. This year everyone you speak to on the program emphasized the importance of being a championship team in defense.
The most BYU-approved points that season were 61 points for NAIA Central Methodist. Everyone else the Cougars faced were held at 60 points or less.
According to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency scores, the Cougars are number 32 in national defense. That’s good for the third-best WCC behind Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, who are having excellent weeks at MTE tournaments in Las Vegas.
In an era when the three-point shot is a great equalizer, BYU has suspended opponents from beyond the bow. BYU ranks second nationally in Ken Pom’s metrics and defends the three against DI competition. Division I teams shoot 19% of three against the BYU defense.
Cougar fans can say thank you for Alex Barcello
WCC Player of the Week, Alex Barcello, was one of the best guards in the country for the first two weeks of the season. Barcello has made an impressive start to his final year at BYU, especially on the offensive.
After four games, Barcello is national runner-up in terms of effective field goal percentage with 88.9%. He is one of only three players in the country who have tried at least 18 free throws and haven’t missed any. The Super Senior Guard also knocks down 61.5% of their three-point attempts this season.
Interesting facts about Texas Southern
The Tigers won a play-in game in the NCAA tournament against Mount St. Mary’s, 60-52 last year, before ending their season in the round of 64 against Michigan, seeded No. 1 at 82-66, saw.
Texas Southern has built an identity by traveling coast to coast during non-conference play and then invites to victories and usually championships in SWAC game.
BYU head coach Mark Pope was proud of how his team recovered in the first four games. However, TSU could test BYU’s recent success on the glass. This season, the Tigers bring a forecourt that has helped them become the ninth-best offensive rebound team in the nation.
Former Texas A&M transfer John Walker III is the top scorer with an average of 12.8 points per game. He’s partnered with 6-foot-9 student Joirdon Karl Nicholas, who averages 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
TSU does all of its work in the post office and in the midfield. They average just four three-point attempts per game, ranking 345th out of 350 schools nationwide.
G – Alex Barcello, 6-2, 192, Sr.
G – Te’Jon Lucas, 6-1, 187, Mr.
F – Gideon George, 6-6, 210, Sr.
F – Caleb Lohner, 6-8, 235, Soph.
C – Gavin Baxter, 6-9, 228, Sr.
Texas South (0-5)
G – PJ Henry, 5-10, 175, Jr.
G – Jordan Gilliam, 6-6, 175, Sr.
F – Justin Hopkins, 6-5, 205, Sr.
F – John Walker III, 6-9, 200, Sr.
F – Joirdon Karl Nicholas, 6-9, 220, Sr.
BYU vs. Texas Southern prediction
Texas Southern has a talented front court which is a good test of Gavin Baxter and Caleb Lohner, who both played their best offensive games of the season in beating Central Methodist. But ultimately, BYU’s offensive firepower will overwhelm the Tigers who want to engage in a defensive exchange of blows.
TSU hangs around for one half, but then BYU pulls off to a blowout win in the second half.
BYU 82, Texas South 65
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Track Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday, 12pm – 3pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.