Lucas leads BYU past Texas Southern to push No. 18 Cougars to 5-0
PROVO, Utah – BYU men’s basketball received a winning effort from upper and underclassmen alike as the Cougars advanced to 5-0 on the season with an 81-64 win over Texas Southern Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.
It's the Cougars' first 5-0 start since the Sweet 16 campaign of 2010-11.
"Great game against another NCAA tournament opponent," said BYU senior guard Te'Jon Lucas. "A big emphasis for us was hitting the glass, and we were plus-14 in rebounds. We also wanted to take care of the ball, and we had less than 10 turnovers. That was a big reason that we came out and won.""
Lucas led the Cougars with 18 points, seven assists and two steals. He was complimented in the front court by 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks from freshman forward Fousseyni Traore.
After Texas Southern trimmed BYU’s lead to 12 with five minutes remaining, Lucas responded with a 5-0 run of his own. Lucas flashed into the paint and knocked down a floater to put the Cougars up 76-62. Following a steal from Alex Barcello, Lucas would get on the board once again with a driving lay-in and made free-throw.
Barcello would make the game’s final shot with an off-balance 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.
Traore made his presence felt on both ends of the floor for the Cougars, including a crowd-pleasing rejection of a Tiger jumper early in the second half. Barcello would collect the ball and send it ahead to Lucas for a transition lay-in.
Midway through the second half, Traore got onto the board from distance with a 3-pointer that pushed BYU’s lead to 14 at 65-49.
Nine different players scored for the Cougars, with Barcello adding 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Barcello’s takeaways were part of 12 Tiger turnovers forced by the Cougars. Each turnover led to fastbreak points for BYU.
Gideon George recorded the team’s first double-double of the season with 10 points and 16 rebounds, a career-high glass-cleaning from the senior forward. George led the team in outrebounding Texas Southern 52-38, including 20-9 on the offensive glass. The Cougars scored 20 points off their 20 offensive rebounds, while the Tigers were held to just five second-chance points.
Gavin Baxter recorded 11 points for the Cougars, including two dunks that brought the Marriott Center to life.
Texas Southern scored the second half’s opening bucket to trim BYU’s lead to 11 at 43-32. Baxter responded by throwing down an alley-oop lob from Lucas and cleaning up a missed Cougar shot with another dunk moments later.
BYU’s offense took a few possessions to find its groove as the game opened with a 4-0 run by Texas Southern. Lucas sparked the Cougar attack, kissing a shot off the glass from the right wing to give BYU its first lead at 5-4. After a driving lay-in on the ensuing possession, Lucas dished the ball to Traore for a floater that pushed BYU out to an early 9-4 lead.
The Cougars ballooned this early run into a double-digit lead that remained for much of the first half. Barcello closed the opening period how he ended the game with a 3-pointer that came in transition off an assist by Lucas. BYU led 43-30 at the half.
The Cougars next travel to face rival Utah on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. MST at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. View the matchup between the Cougars and the Runnin’ Utes live on the Pac-12 Network or listen live on BYU Radio and the BYU Sports Network.