Brigham Younger Cougars guard Alex Barcello (13) drives on San Diego Toreros as BYU and San Diego play in an NCAA basketball recreation in Provo o on the Marriott Heart on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 (Mengshin Lin, Deseret Information)
Estimated learn time: 5-6 minutes
PROVO — The Toreros had been daring someone else to make a shot, double-teaming BYU main scorer Alex Barcello, grabbing his jersey, and making it tough for him to search out an open have a look at the basket.
Seneca Knight was completely satisfied to take that dare.
BYU basketball followers responded within the first house recreation in over per week with loud cries of “Booooo” hanging down from the rafters.
Wait, no; make that, “Foooooouuuuuuuss.”
Knight tied a season excessive with 14 factors with 5 rebounds and three assists off the bench, and freshman Fousseyni Traore added 14 factors and 11 rebounds as BYU males’s basketball returned to the Marriott Heart with a 79-71 win Thursday night time over San Diego.
“Spencer discovered me on that first shot, and from there on I simply acquired it going,” stated Knight, who scored in double figures for the second time in 4 video games. I felt like I used to be about to make all the pieces the remainder of the sport.”
The New Orleans native whose switch from San Jose State briefly took him again house to LSU earlier than in the end signing with the Cougars as a junior discovered his shot on the proper time, too, taking pictures 4 of 5 from the sphere and a pair of of three from 3-point vary with 4 free throws and a team-high plus-17 ranking.
It was tied for his finest offensive outing since pouring in 18 factors and 7 rebounds in San Jose State’s 73-71 loss to Cal Poly final yr — certainly one of simply 4 video games during which Knight performed earlier than opting to switch out of the Mountain West.
“He is finished an unbelievable job, however rising is tough,” stated BYU coach Mark Pope, who grew to become the primary coach in program historical past to succeed in 60 wins in his third season. “He is in a brand new state of affairs, on a top-25 group proper now the place all the pieces that issues is completely different, the eye to element is completely different. It is a studying course of; you do not simply stroll right into a program like we’ve got — you need to study, the best way to act, the best way to carry your self, what’s essential, what’s not.
“To Seneca’s credit score, he is been actually keen to attempt to study what all of which means. We acquired to see a few of that tonight.”
In fact, he had some assist, too.
Barcello, the now-famously dubbed “finest shooter within the nation” by ESPN’s Jay Bilas, who was mobbed, muscled and barely minced phrases in opposition to a San Diego protection save for one time? He solely scored 22 factors with three assists for the Cougars (16-4, 4-1 WCC), who acquired 10 factors and 7 rebounds from Gideon George and 9 factors and 4 assists from Te’Jon Lucas.
However for a second, neither Barcello nor most of his teammates might discover the room to function. With the sixth-year senior star combating by means of double groups and additional contact, and his group struggling to make pictures round him earlier than Knight’s emergence, the night time began off something however brilliant.
San Diego (10-8, 3-2 WCC), which is tied for second within the league by holding opponents to only 28% from 3-point vary, stored the Cougars off the arc till Knight’s trey greater than 5 minutes into the sport. However the San Jose State switch buried his second 3-pointer with 13:07 left within the half to offer the Cougars their first lead of the sport, and Knight singlehandedly capped an 8-0 run with a pair of free throws to go up 15-12 moments later.
“We knew it was going to be an incredible battle with them tonight. They’re an incredible rebounding group,” Barcello stated of San Diego. “It was 31-31 coming into the second half, and we had been simply going to proceed to battle all through the sport. A variety of feelings got here out within the second half, with refs, with gamers, with groups. However I assumed our group did an incredible job of combating by means of that frustration, which is what coach preaches to us on daily basis.”
Barcello knocked down back-to-back buckets — together with an ankle-breaking crossover right into a easy jumper — to push the result in 23-17 halfway by means of the primary half, however San Diego responded with a 6-0 run to take a 25-23 edge into the ultimate minutes of the half.
Enter Knight (once more), who stole the ball off Yavuz Gultekin and raced the opposite route for 2 to maintain the Cougars within the recreation.
Knight had 14 factors, 5 rebounds and two of BYU’s three 3-pointers within the first half for a group that shot simply 33% from the sphere however had been tied with the Toreros on the break. BYU additionally outrebounded San Diego 25-17 and restricted the Toreros to only three offensive rebounds and two second-chance factors within the first half.
“I assumed Seneca supplied a large amount of power within the first half. He was simply discovering his spots,” Barcello stated. “We have a whole lot of guys who’ve been underappreciated elsewhere, and so they’ve acquired a chip on their shoulder. Once they come right here, they’re keen to do no matter it takes to win and to purchase right into a top-25 group.
“It is simply enjoyable to play with individuals that you simply actually like.”
— BYUtv Sports activities (@byutvsports) January 21, 2022
George sparked his personal private 7-0 run along with his first 3-pointer with 14:13 remaining, and the Cougars began to drag away. Barcello then helped put the sport away for good by directing a 13-4 spurt with back-to-back jumpers and a seam cross to Spencer Johnson for a rating with 8:03 left.
The Cougars shot simply 33% from the sphere within the first half, however 69% after the break and did not path for the ultimate 16 minutes.
Very good, certainly.
“The blokes had a lot power and depth, and that is a very good factor,” Pope stated of his group that outrebounded USD 38-28. “We walked into halftime with eight offensive rebounds, and that was a very good factor as a result of we knew that our depth was in the precise place.
“Most teaching staffs within the nation are simply begging their guys to return and compete each night time — and these guys come each night time. That could be a separator for this group.”
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