BYU beats New Orleans behind five players in double figures

BYU Men’s Basketball got off to a 2-0 start on the season after beating New Orleans 86-61 in the Marriott Center on Thanksgiving night.

“I told the guys in the eight-minute media timeout that a lot of times in this game what you’re competing against is frustration,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “That’s actually your opponent. I thought the guys did a really nice job just managing it. They kept focused, kept locked in, did the best they could, and I’m super proud of them.”

The Cougars had five players score in double figures, including a first career double-double by Richard Harward, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Alex Barcello led the team in scoring back-to-back nights, finishing with 19 points against New Orleans.

The other players to score in double figures for the Cougars were Kolby Lee with 12, Connor Harding with 12 and Brandon Averette with 11.

BYU got out to a 4-0 lead thanks to scores by Harding and Lee, but five points by New Orleans’ Lamont Berzat had the Cougars down 9-6 early.

After the slow start, Harding hit a 3-pointer in transition to tie it up at nine. Put-back dunks by Gavin Baxter and Harward put the Cougars up 13-11.

Averette then nailed a three, leading to a Privateer timeout with BYU ahead 16-11. A Caleb Lohner layup capped a 9-0 Cougar run that spanned nearly two and a half minutes.

A fast-break dunk by New Orleans’ Damion Rosser ended a four-minute span without a field goal to draw the Privateers within four, but another Lohner layup pushed the lead to 20-14.

Lee then scored off a Barcello assist and Trevin Knell added a three to put the Cougars up 25-14.

Barcello got on the board with a driving layup and then made two more layups on back-to-back possessions for a 32-20 BYU lead.

Alex Barcello drives against New Orleans defenders on Nov. 26 in the Marriott Center. Barcello led the team in scoring with 19 points. (BYU Photo)

A Lohner put-back layup got the bench excited and put the Cougars up 35-21. Barcello then hit a three on a kick out from Lee, putting BYU ahead 38-23.

Wyatt Lowell made a layup as time expired, and the Cougars led 41-27 at the half. BYU held New Orleans to 1-for-12 shooting down the stretch, with no field goals in the final 5:54 of the first half.

Barcello led the Cougars in the first half with nine points and five rebounds. Lohner added six points and eight rebounds and Harward had five points and five rebounds through the first 20 minutes.

BYU shot 48.6% from the field, but only 4-for-13 from deep in the first half.

Harding got the scoring started in the second half for the Cougars with a 3-pointer, after a Lee hook shot, BYU led 46-31. Fancy footwork and a layup by Harding stretched the lead to 18 at 48-32.

Another fast-break dunk by Rosser drew the Privateers within 12 at 48-36, but a pair of free throws by Harward had BYU in front by 14.

Lee scored off a perfectly executed pick-and-roll with Spencer Johnson to put the Cougars up 52-39.

Knell knocked down a three, Lee added another hook shot, and Gideon George scored on the break to put BYU ahead by 20 at 59-39.

Trevin Knell follows through on a 3-pointer as the BYU bench watches behind him. Knell hit both of his 3-point attempts against New Orleans. (BYU Photo)

Barcello had a driving layup and Harward got another put-back lay-in for a 63-45 BYU lead. A Barcello three and fast-break layup set a then game-high lead of 22 points with the Cougars up 68-46.

A 3-pointer by Berzat brought the Privateers within 15, but Lee quickly scored on the other end for a 72-55 BYU lead.

Averette then hit two corner triples and the Cougars led 79-60 with just over two minutes remaining.

Barcello knocked down a corner three of his own, Harward finished another put-back layup qne Knell scored on an impressive reverse layup to close it out, 86-61.

The Cougars finished the night shooting 51.5% from the field and 37% from three. They racked up 54 rebounds, doubling up on New Orleans’ 28, including 18 on the offensive glass.

The offensive rebounds were the highest in a game for BYU since the 2016-17 season.

After playing on back-to-back nights, BYU will take a day off before facing Utah Valley University on Saturday, Nov. 28, in the UCCU Crosstown Clash.

The game starts at 7 p.m. MST at the Marriott Center and will be televised on BYUtv and broadcast on the BYU Sports Network on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143 and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.

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