Austin Rustand | Posted: 4 Dec 2021 | Updated: 16 Dec 2021

Cougars bounce back with physical win over Missouri State, 74-68

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Te'Jon Lucas Missouri State 2021

PROVO, Utah - BYU men's basketball battled its way to a bounce-back win over Missouri State 74-68 in the Cougars' first true road trip to Missouri in program history, Saturday.

“I’m super proud of our guys," said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “It’s been a really hard week for us between illnesses, injuries and taking our first loss. These guys found a way to get it done tonight and in the process grew closer together and built trust in each other that is going to bode well for us going forward.”

In another physical game, senior guards Alex Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas led the way for the Cougars. Barcello finished with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, a rebound and four steals. Lucas came through in big moments for BYU, hitting 8-of-16 shots, totaling 17 points, three rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in the win.

Spencer Johnson and Caleb Lohner were the only other Cougars to finish in double figures scoring 14 and 10 respectively. Johnson went 3-for-4 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line and grabbed six rebounds. Lohner also grabbed six boards and shot 50 percent from the field in the win.

As a team, the Cougars shot 48.2 percent from the field, compared to 31.9 percent against Utah Valley Wednesday night.  Although they shot the ball better overall, BYU again struggled to shoot the three, hitting 26.1 percent of their three-point attempts and only 1 of 11 in the second half.

The Cougars made up for the lack of three-point shooting by scoring 16 points off 12 Bears turnovers and 15 second-chance points.

First Half

The Cougars got off to another slow start with only five points on 2-of-7 shooting going into the first media timeout with 15:55 to play.

After a few games of below-average shooting from Barcello, the senior hit his first two three point attempts of the night.

Missouri State on the other hand, made two of its first four threes to stay down one with 11:46 to play in the first half. Coming out of the under-12 timeout, the Bears got a bucket down low to take their first lead of the game.

Spencer Johnson tied the game when Trevin Knell found him in the corner for a catch-and-shoot three. On the next possession, Te’Jon Lucas hit a free throw line pull-up jumper to take back the lead for BYU with 8:33 to play in the first.

The Cougars scored on three straight possessions to stretch the lead to five, their largest of the game, with 3:58 left in the first.

With 1:37 left in the half, Knell hit a floater in the lane to give the Cougars an eight-point advantage. After two free throws by Missouri State, Lucas sliced through the lane for a right-hand kiss off the glass to again extend the Cougars lead to eight going into the break.

The Cougars shot 48 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from behind the arc and 75 percent from the line in the first 20 minutes. Johnson led BYU with 12 points on 3 of 3 from downtown and went 3 for 4 from the charity stripe.

Second Half

BYU came out of the locker room and quickly found Knell for an open 15-footer from the right elbow to give the Cougars their first double-digit lead of the game.

On the ensuing BYU possession, Barcello faked out his defender and hit an over the shoulder runner to put the Cougars up 12, causing Missouri State to take a timeout to regroup.

The Cougars scored on their third straight possession with Seneca Knight banking in a left elbow jumper for his first points of the game.

Although the Bears found themselves in a 14-point hole, they countered, scoring on three of four possessions to cut the BYU lead to seven with 15:02 to play. After an and-1 missed free throw, Missouri State got an offensive board, hit a three and got another and-1 to cut the lead to five.

After a foul on Lohner, Jaylen Minnett hit a 25-foot three to send the JQH Arena into frenzy with the BYU lead cut to two.

The Cougars responded with two straight scores from Lucas, followed by a slithering layup from Barcello, which gave BYU a six-point cushion going into the under-12 media timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, the Bears began to pound the paint, getting two straight buckets to cut the lead to three. After Lucas hit a step back three to ease the pressure, got back-to-back buckets to cut the lead to one.

Every time Missouri State scored to bring it to a one possession game, BYU seemed to have an answer on the other end.

The Cougars stretched the lead to five with two straight scores, but the Bears countered with two straight of their own.

Lucas again gave the Cougars some breathing room with a jumper from the right elbow which took them to the under-4 timeout.

Out of the timeout, Gaige Prim again cut the Cougar lead to one, but Barcello had the answer with a patented right elbow pull up to extend the lead to three.

Neither team could buy a defensive stop until Knight came up with a huge block with 54 seconds left in the game which was collected by Barcello and led to a Lohner bucket to give the Cougars some breathing room.

The seven-point BYU lead with 38 second to play brought about the foul game which led to a six-point bounce-back victory for the Cougars.

Up next for the Cougars, they return home to face Utah State in the Marriott Center. They then embark on another three-game road trip.