Slow start hurts Cougars in loss to Boise State

BYU Men’s Basketball fell to 5-2 on the season after losing to Boise State 74-70 at the Marriott Center on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

“Congratulations to Boise State,” head coach Mark Pope said. “We knew they were a good team coming in, they’re very talented in multiple positions. They came out with some fire and passion to start out the game and we could not respond. I was proud of my guys for hanging in there, fighting, battling through frustration, and staying locked in, but we just weren’t quite good enough to get it done.”

The Cougars failed to score in the first nine minutes and 39 seconds, which proved to be the difference-maker. The team’s leading scorer, Alex Barcello, didn’t score until 49 seconds before the half, but led BYU with 22 points, three rebounds and three assists by the end of the game.

After a scoreless opening minute and a half, the Broncos got on the board first with a triple. Boise State scored on back-to-back possessions and the Cougars faced an early 7-0 deficit.

The Broncos got another 3-pointer to go, then scored on a put-back lay-in and a fast break dunk, putting them up 14-0. BYU finally scored its first points on a Matt Haarms layup at the 11:21 mark.

The Cougars then got a stop and Haarms completed an and-one layup to cut the Bronco lead to nine. Boise State scored five straight after that, however, pushing the lead back to 14.

Spencer Johnson makes a layup against Boise State on Dec. 9. Johnson matched his season-high with 10 points, and also had two rebounds and two assists. (BYU Photo)

Spencer Johnson got a tough layup to go with the shot clock winding down, making it 19-7, Boise State. Richard Harward scored in the paint, cutting the lead to 10. Then a Brandon Averette floater made it 21-11.

Two free throws by Caleb Lohner cut the lead to eight at 21-13, but a 5-0 Bronco run had BYU down 13 once more. A Haarms hook and a Connor Harding free throw made it 28-16.

A pair of free throws and a three by Barcello cut the Boise lead to nine at 30-21 at the half. The Cougars shot 33.3% from the field and 1-for-10 from deep in the first 20 minutes. Haarms led BYU at the half with seven points.

Boise State shot 38.2% from the field and 40% from three in the half. Derrick Alston led the Broncos with 10 first-half points. RayJ Dennis also added eight points.

Two Haarms free throws got the Cougars on the board in the second half. A Barcello triple then drew BYU within six at 32-26. Boise State scored on three straight possessions before Harward scored on a put-back layup, making it 39-29.

Harward scored on a tip-in, drew a charge on the other end, and then got the assist on a kick-out to Johnson who knocked down a three, drawing the Cougars within six once again. Harding hit a jumper at the top of the key, and it was 42-36 Broncos.

Another Harward layup and a Haarms hook brought the score to 46-40, Boise State. Barcello hit Johnson on the break for a three and the lead was cut to three. Wyatt Lowell then knocked down a 3-pointer, drawing BYU within two, 48-46.

Wyatt Lowell celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer. Lowell also had three rebounds in the game. (BYU Photo)

Barcello then tied it up at 48 with a step-back jumper in the paint. The Broncos look the lead again, but a driving Johnson layup made it a two-point game. Haarms then went 1-for-2 from the free throw line and it was 54-51.

The Broncos pushed the lead back to nine before a Haarms floater made it a seven-point game. A deep trey by Barcello and a reverse layup by Haarms had the score at 68-54. Another 3-pointer by Barcello then made it a four-point game.

One free throw and a floater by Barcello had BYU down five, 69-64. Haarms scored on a layup off a pass from Averette and the Cougars were once again within three at 69-66 in the final minutes.

A floater by Averette made it 70-68, Boise State, and BYU tied it up on a driving Barcello layup with 36 seconds remaining. The Broncos hit a nearly wide-open three on the other end, leaving the Cougars with 7.5 seconds to tie the game.

Alex Barcello elevates on a jumper. He scored a team-high 22 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-6 from downtown against Boise State. (BYU Photo)

Coming out of a timeout, Barcello missed a contested triple off a dribble handoff with Averette, forcing BYU to foul. Boise State then hit one free throw to ice it and win 74-70.

The Broncos shot 46.6% from the field and 60% from three on the night. They had four players in double figures. Dennis finished with 19, Abu Kigab added 14, Emmanuel Akot had 13 and Alston scored 12.

BYU shot 50% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc on the night. Haarms scored a season-high 18 points, with four rebounds and one block. Johnson matched his season-high with 10 points, and he also had two rebounds and two assists.

The Cougars will be back at the Marriott Center on Saturday, Dec. 12, to face rival Utah at 4 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on BYUtv and broadcast on the Sports Network on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143 and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.

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