Three observations on the blowout win against CMU

PROVO, Utah – For the first time in the Mark Pope era, BYU basketball opened a season 4-0. The fiery cougars defeated NAIA Central Methodist 97-61.

Striker Gavin Baxter was named Player of the Game at the Marriott Center for his game in a win with 13 points and five rebounds in 14 minutes. Baxter is nearing 100 percent health after suffering an ACL injury nearly a year ago.

Along with Baxter, here are three more observations from BYU’s blowout victory over CMU.

The number 1 BYU basketball fans emerge

When former BYU head coach Dave Rose first came to Provo in 1997 as Steve Cleveland’s assistant, the long-time maintenance staff at the Marriott Center told him, “Just wait until January after the football season and the crowds will show up.”

Almost a quarter of a century later, BYU basketball is an event fans want to attend, even during a packed Saturday of football.

On Saturday evening against a NAIA team in Central Methodist, of which very few BYU fans had ever heard of before the tip, a total of 15,220 fans rolled into the 19,000-seat Marriott Center. All four departments of BYU’s student division, The ROC, were filled to the back of the 50-year-old venue.

It shows that regardless of the opponent, fans show up when you win.

# 2 Alex Barcello has expanded its range

After BYU defeated the state of San Diego last week, Mark Pope was asked if he was concerned about his team’s fighting from the three-point line. He replied quickly, “No, not at all.”

It’s easy not to worry when you have an efficient scorer in Alex Barcello.

Looking like an All-American Guard for the first two weeks of the season, Barcello has been one of the nation’s top three-point shooters for the past two years. What could be even more frightening for BYU opponents is that Barcello has expanded their reach beyond the arch this season.

At the start of the game, he had knocked down 61.5% of his three-point attempts in three games against teams that had competed in last year’s NCAA tournament. He didn’t do anything to hurt those crazy numbers on Saturday night.

In the first half against CMU, Barcello hit a three near the 50th anniversary logo of the Marriott Center. Overall, he finished the night 4-of-7 from the depths and 6-of-10 from the field and scored 16 points in 19 minutes of play.

# 3 Caleb Lohner comes to life on the offensive

Second year striker Caleb Lohner would be the first to tell you that everything in his basketball career had an emotional process. In the first three games of the season, Lohner shot 35% out of the field.

Lohner’s influence on a game can go beyond simply scoring a goal. The preseason all-WCC selection is a gifted rebounder. But if BYU wants to achieve the high goals of the season, Lohner has to become a playmaker offensively.

This season, the Dallas native, who has taken on a more prominent leadership role alongside Barcello, scored 19 points and shot 80% off the field while still pulling seven rebounds down and handing out two assists. It was his first double-digit goal of the season.

CMU didn’t have the courtyard to battle the big BYU, but it could be a spark for wages heading into a big week that includes a rivalry with Utah at the Huntsman Center.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and hosts the Cougar Track Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday, 12pm – 3pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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