How BYU basketball bounced back with a big win over St. John’s

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Just over 24 hours after a humble 26-point debacle at the hands of USC, BYU rebounded Wednesday afternoon against St. John’s.

Coach Mark Pope said after this terrible loss he wanted to see what his team were made of – and he got the response he hoped for.

The Cougars (4-1), who missed 50 shots against the Trojans, shot 56% in the second half, and made big plays in the home stretch, to hold the Red Storm, 74-68, to Mohegan Sun Arena – in what has been dubbed “Bubbleville” – in Uncasville, Connecticut.

“I’m incredibly proud of our guys after a really brutal night with a really really short runtime, a lot of soul searching and a lot of questions and a few doubts, the guys did the only thing you could – they answered, »Said the Pope. “Very few teams are beaten like we did (Tuesday) and then have an important game 24 hours later and have the strength to dump it. But these guys did.

Head guard Alex Barcello, who has done everything for BYU, led the way – scoring 20 points, the team-top, with three rebounds, five assists, two steals and three 3-pointers in 36 minutes of action. He made 8 of his first 9 shots from the ground and finished 8 of 11.

“Alex has such a leadership role in our team. Like the rest of the team, he was absolutely devastated after yesterday. We just didn’t recognize each other. It was a blow to all of us, ”said Pope. “To lead the charge so these guys come back and have a great game, Alex Barcello tonight just made all the right plays. He decided to play the game the right way, aggressively and intelligently no matter what. He showed a lot of leadership, just in terms of playing the game as the game told him to play it. When you have a point guard who does this it gives you a chance to win every game. This is certainly the case tonight.

Junior forward Gideon George came off the bench to score his first career double-double at BYU with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Barcello and George were two of the five double-digit Cougars. Brandon Averette scored 12 while Connor Harding and Trevin Knell finished with 11 each. Combined, Averette, Harding and Knell knocked down seven 3-pointers.

Overall, the Cougars reached 10 of 27 on a 3-point range – an improvement from Tuesday’s poor 7-of-30 performance against USC.

BYU led at halftime 29-23, but St. John’s (3-1) tied the game at 43 with 14:39 remaining.

The Cougars had some big shots in the second half, including a back-to-back 3 from Knell and Harding that gave BYU a 56-47 advantage with 9:45 to go.

From there, the Cougars kept the Red Storm at bay, although things didn’t always go smoothly due to turnovers and missed free throws. For the game, BYU made 19 turnovers and St. John’s scored 23 points on those giveaways.

But in the end, the Cougars came up with some key plays, including a pair of big rebounds from George.

BYU was hanging on to a 70-66 lead with 41 seconds left when George grabbed a missed free throw by Averette and suffered a foul. After George made one of two free throws with 39 seconds remaining, he collected a defensive rebound on a failed basket by St. John’s with 24.4 seconds left.

George buried both free throws to put the Cougars 73-66 to seal the victory.

“I thought (BYU) had come and imposed their will and was a lot more physical. They had more experience than us, ”said St. John’s coach Mike Anderson. “The match came and went. But they had their cool. Give them credit. They made close-ups. … They answered the call.

BYU passed the Red Storm 44-35 and he had 11 offensive boards, even though he only had three points in the second half. Against USC, the Cougars recorded 15 offensive rebounds with zero second chance points.

“Obviously, we have a lot of room for growth. Can you imagine when we’ll actually start converting those offensive rebounds? »Said the Pope. “But that said, it gives us life, it gives us rhythm. Our guys put in incredible effort to get the attacking glass. We will continue to run this way and we will continue to improve.

Pope was happy with the way his players shot in the second half – 15 of 27 overall and 6 of 11 in 3-point territory.

“Our guys did a really good job trying to share the ball. We ended up with 15 assists and we didn’t shoot very well. We left a bunch of it on the table with a few missed open hits. That’s what filming is about, ”Pope said. “There are going to be little problems on the road where you don’t shoot the ball well. The trick is how you answer them. Do you respond by questioning yourself? By changing the way you shoot the ball? If you do, it will be problematic. ”

Pope teaches her team to complete every move, to own every move.

“It was shown in the second half,” he said. “Our guys just did more shots.”

BYU visits the state of Utah on Saturday.

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