Cougars take down Central Methodist 97-61 in second straight 30-point win
PROVO, Utah — BYU men’s basketball improved to 4-0 for the first time in the Mark Pope era thanks to a 97-61 victory over Central Methodist on Saturday evening at the Marriott Center.
“For us to come out of the first two weeks 4-0, I’m really proud of that,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “We’re trying to hang our hat on our ability to guard and our ability to rebound. The guys were really focused on that and I thought we got better tonight.”
The Cougars saw six players score in double figures and shot 56.7 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from the 3-point line in their first-ever meeting against the Eagles. They recorded 1.49 points per possession with 36 of their season-high 97 points coming off the bench.
BYU also grabbed 37 boards and tallied 24 assists in their second straight win over 30 points.
Caleb Lohner led the Cougars tying a career-high with 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting, seven rebounds and two assists in the win.
Alex Barcello reached double figures for a seventh straight game as the senior finished with 16 points on 60 percent shooting, going 4-for-7 from behind the arc. He added three assists and a steal to his stat line in only 21 minutes of work.
The Cougars immediately used their size, finding Gavin Baxter and Lohner to jump out to an early 6-2 lead. The Cougars extended their lead to double digits with 14:33 to go in the first half with a three from Barcello and back-to-back buckets from Gideon George.
After two straight scores by Central Methodist, Trevin Knell scored his first points of the night with a three from the left wing. Spencer Johnson was fouled going to the rim resulting in two made free throws that put the BYU up 19-12 with 11:25 left in the first.
The Eagles scored on consecutive possessions to cut the Cougar lead to five halfway through the first half. Both teams continued to trade baskets, the Cougars maintaining a five-point lead going into the under-8 media timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Cougars scored on four straight possessions with a left wing three from Johnson, a scoop-and-score from Lucas, a floater off the glass and another three from Barcello to extend the lead to 14-points with 4:27 left.
The Marriott Center was sent into a frenzy when Barcello hit his third three of the first half, followed by an acrobatic layup for Seneca Knight’s first points of the game and a dunk by Baxter.
BYU took a 17-point lead heading into the break and shot 51.5 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from behind the arc.
In the first four minutes of the second half, the Cougars and Eagles traded baskets keeping the BYU lead at 17 until Lohner stretched the lead to 20 with a strong move in the paint, finishing the and-1 at the line.
The Cougars scored 15-straight points, starting with Atiki Ally Atiki’s first points of the season on a putback dunk. On the next possession, Lucas turned the corner on his defender and tossed a lob to Baxter for the flush.
George hit a floater in the lane and Lohner scored at the rim on consecutive possessions extending the BYU lead to 32 with 10:16 left in the game.
Mark Pope dug into his bench in the last ten minutes giving Hunter Erickson and Trey Stewart their first significant minutes of the season as the Cougars held a 30-point lead throughout. He also brought in Nate Hansen and Casey Brown in the closing four minutes with both freshmen knocking down a three.
Next up, the Cougars host Texas Southern on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Marriott Center.
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