BYU guts out 74-68 win over St. John’s
The Daily Universe
UNCASVILLE, Conn. - BYU men’s basketball bounced back and notched its fourth win of the season, beating St. John’s 74-68 in the Roman Legends Classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“Unbelievably proud of our guys,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “After a really brutal night with a really short turnaround, a lot of soul searching, questioning, and some doubt, the guys did the only thing that you can and responded. Very few teams get beat like we did last night and then have a big-time game 24 hours later and come out and have the toughness to gut it out, but these guys did, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The Cougars shot 45% from the field, 37% from deep, and outrebounded the Red Storm by nine in a close game to pull away late.
The Cougars had five players finish in double figures, including Gideon George’s first BYU double-double with a career-high 13 points and 15 rebounds. Alex Barcello lead BYU in scoring for the fourth game of the season, finishing with 20 points and five assists. Brandon Averette had 12 points and four rebounds, Trevin Knell added 11 points and four rebounds, and Connor Harding scored 11 points and grabbed two boards.
St. John’s scored first with a triple, but Barcello hit a jumper to make it 3-2. Barcello then knocked down a 3-pointer on the following possession to put BYU up 5-3. A layup by Matt Haarms and a floater by Averette gave the Cougars a 9-3 advantage before St. John’s went on a 7-0 run to go up three. A kick-out triple by Knell then tied the score at 12-12.
BYU took the lead on a Barcello jumper in transition and then extended it to 16-12 on a George jumper off the break. Capping a 12-0 run was a pull-up jumper by Knell and a trey by Averette, putting the Cougars up 21-12. After the Red Storm scored five straight, Harding recorded his first points with an and-one layup, for a 24-17 BYU lead with 3:46 to go in the half.
Two buckets from Barcello and one late from the Red Storm sent BYU to the locker room with a 29-23 lead. Barcello had 12 points, Caleb Lohner had seven rebounds, and Haarms had three blocks, in the first 20 minutes.
BYU shot 36% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc, while holding St. John’s to 29% shooting, including 18% from deep in the first half.
The Red Storm drew within one to open the second half, but triples by Barcello and Harding put by BYU up 35-32. George scored on a fast break lay-in and Barcello got a pull-up jumper at the free throw line to bounce in for a 39-34 Cougar advantage.
Tied at 43, Lohner hit an and-one backdoor layup to give the Cougars a 46-43 lead. A driving Barcello layup then put BYU up by five, 48-43.
A fadeaway jumper by George and triples by Knell and Harding gave the Cougars a 56-47 advantage. The Red Storm pulled within two before Harding found Haarms for a layup and a 58-54 lead. Averette made a pair of free throws, Richard Harward drew a charge and Knell knocked down a trey to put BYU up 63-54. Averette then scored on a goaltending call and the Cougars went up 65-57.
With 2:14 to play, Averette hit a corner three off a Harding drive along the baseline for a game-high lead of 10, 70-60. St. John’s cut the lead to four at 70-66 on three straight buckets with :43 seconds to play before George iced the game with three straight free throws and Barcello added one late to give the Cougars a 74-68 win.
The Cougars will face Utah State on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah. The game will tipoff at 7:00 p.m. MST. The television network has not yet been determined. The game will also be broadcast on the BYU Sports Network on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143 and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.