BYU blocks Cleveland State 69-59 for season-opening win


Postgame Notes and Quotes
Box Score

PROVO, Utah – Alex Barcello was flawless from the free-throw line en route to scoring 24 points and helping BYU defeat Cleveland State 69-59 on Tuesday night at the Marriott Center.

"Cleveland State is a championship team," said BYU head coach Mark Pope. "That's why we got them. They won their league tournament last year, plus got every single player back and added two big time shooters to their roster. They are a super disruptive team and so for all those reasons it was a huge win for us. Alex Barcello, he's just a star. I mean he's one of six returning All-Americans in he entire country, and he's shown us over and over again that he's got some moxie out there on the floor."

Barcello set a new program record for points to field goal attempts with 24 points on only six shot attempts. The senior guard was 5-of-6 from the field and a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line as he has now made 33 straight from the charity stripe dating back to last season. That's the fourth longest streak in BYU history. The 13 made free throws are sixth all-time in BYU history in single-game free-throws made without a miss.

The Cougars and Vikings traded scores and fouls from start to finish with BYU’s game-high lead coming at 10 in the closing seconds. With 11:29 remaining, Cleveland State briefly snagged the lead at 46-44 following a lay-in from guard D’Moi Hodge.

BYU quickly retook the lead for good with free-throws from Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas. 3-pointers from Barcello and Spencer Johnson, along with two blocks from Fousseyni Traore awakened the Marriott Center and swung the momentum in the Cougars’ favor as the clock wound down.

BYU capitalized on 24 Cleveland State fouls by shooting 82 percent from the free-throw line.

Johnson provided a valuable spark off the bench for the Cougars throughout the night. The junior guard from American Fork, Utah put up 13 points, including 2-of-3 from distance. A Johnson 3-pointer from the right corner off a Barcello assist put the Cougars up six, 58-52, with less than six minutes remaining. 

Moment later, Johnson came up big on defense with a crucial block that left the Vikings with an empty possession late in the game.

Johnson’s block was one of seven on the night for the Cougars, three of which came from Traore. Caleb Lohner and Trevin Knell added seven and eight points respectively. Lohner and Traore led the Cougars in rebounding with 17 boards between the two Wasatch Academy products. For the night, BYU outrebounded the Vikings 41-31.

While the BYU defense forced only six Cleveland State turnovers, the Cougars limited the Vikings to 36 percent shooting from the field; well under their 45 percent from a season ago.

With the win over the Vikings, BYU moves to 1-0 in the season’s opening week. The Cougars now prepare to face San Diego State at the Marriott Center on Friday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. MST. Tune-into the Cougars and Aztecs on BYUtv and the BYU Sports Network.