BYU Men’s Basketball guts out 74-68 win over St. John’s

BYU Men’s Basketball bounced back from a blowout loss and notched its fourth win of the season, beating St. John’s in the Roman Legends Classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on Dec. 2.

“(I’m) unbelievably proud of our guys,” head coach Mark Pope said. “After a really brutal night with a really short turnaround, a lot of soul searching, questioning, and some doubt, the guys did the only thing that you can and responded. Very few teams get beat like we did last night and then have a big-time game 24 hours later and come out and have the toughness to gut it out, but these guys did and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The Cougars shot 45% from the field, 37% from deep, and out-rebounded the Red Storm by nine boards in a close game where they pulled away late.

St. John’s got on the board first with a triple, but Alex Barcello hit a jumper to make it 3-2 Red Storm. Barcello then knocked down a 3-pointer on the following possession to put BYU up 5-3.

A layup by Matt Haarms and a floater by Brandon Averette made it a 9-5 Cougar lead before St. John’s went on a 7-0 run to go up three. A kick-out triple by Trevin Knell then tied it up at 12-12.

BYU’s Alex Barcello, center, shoots over St. John’s Vince Cole, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

BYU took the lead on a Barcello jumper in transition and then extended it to 16-12 on a Gideon George jumper on the break.

A pull-up jumper by Knell and a three by Averette capped off a 12-0 run, putting the Cougars up 21-12.

After the Red Storm scored five straight, Connor Harding recorded his first points in Connecticut, with an and-one layup, for a 24-17 BYU lead.

Barcello knocked down a corner triple and scored on a fast break layup the next possession to give BYU a 29-21 lead.

St. John’s Dylan Addae-Wusu, left, and BYU’s Alex Barcello scramble for the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

The Cougars led 29-23 at the half after shooting 36.4% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc.

Barcello had 12 points, Caleb Lohner had seven rebounds, and Haarms had three blocks in the first 20 minutes.

BYU held St. John’s to 29% shooting, including 18.2% from deep in the first period. No player had more than seven points in the half.

The Red Storm drew within one to open the second half, but triples by Barcello and Harding put by BYU up 35-32.

Connor Harding dribbles against a St. John’s defender. Harding had 11 points in the game. (Bob Blanchard/Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame)

George scored on a fast-break lay-in and Barcello got a pull-up jumper at the free-throw line to bounce in for a 39-34 Cougar lead.

Harding then made a put-back layup and George knocked down a pair of free throws to put BYU ahead 43-36, but St. John’s drew back within two at 43-41.

Tied up at 43, Lohner hit an and-one backdoor layup to give the Cougars a 46-43 lead. A driving Barcello layup then put BYU up by five, 48-43.

A fadeaway jumper by George and triples by Knell and Harding gave the Cougars a 56-47 advantage. The Red Storm drew back within two, however, before Harding found Haarms for a layup to make it a 58-54 BYU lead.

Averette made a pair of free throws, Richard Harward drew a charge, and Knell knocked down a three to put BYU up 63-54. Averette then scored on a goaltending call and the Cougars went up 65-57.

Brandon Averette dribbles up the court fending off a St. John’s defender. Averette scored 12 points against the Red Storm. (Bob Blanchard/Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame)

George drove and hit from close range, putting BYU up 67-58 with just under four minutes remaining.

Averette then hit a corner three off of a Harding drive along the baseline for a game-high lead of 10, 70-60. George got the rebound after a missed Averette free throw and got fouled on the put-back soon after.

One made free throw by George gave the Cougars a 71-66 lead with 40 seconds remaining. Two more free throws had BYU up 73-66 and Barcello sunk another one from the charity stripe to secure the Cougars’ 74-68 win.

BYU held St. John’s to 40.6% shooting from the field and 19% from three. Julian Champagnie led the Red Storm with 25 points and five rebounds.

Position Sports
Gideon George defends a St. John’s player on Dec. 2 at the Roman Legends Classic. George had his first double-double at BYU with 13 points and 15 rebounds. (Bob Blanchard/Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame)

The Cougars had five players finish in double figures, including George’s first BYU double-double with a career-high 13 points and 15 rebounds.

George received praise on social media for his breakout performance in Connecticut, with CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein calling him “a future West Coast Conference star” following the double-double against St. John’s.

Barcello finished with 20 points and five assists. Averette had 12 points and four rebounds. Knell added 11 points and four rebounds, and Harding put in 11 points and two rebounds.

BYU is scheduled to play next on Saturday, Dec. 5 at Utah State. The game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network and broadcast on the BYU Sports Network on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143 and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.

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