BYU Men’s Basketball holds off No. 18 SDSU for 72-62 win


BYU Men’s Basketball holds off No. 18 SDSU for 72-62 win

BYU Men’s Basketball upset No. 18 San Diego State 72-62 on the road to move to 7-2 on the season and get a signature win in non-conference play.

“To come in here and get a win is a huge deal,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said after the game. “(SDSU) may not lose another game this season.”

It was BYU’s first non-conference regular season win against a ranked opponent since the 2007-08 season against No. 6 Louisville, according to play-by-play analyst Greg Wrubell.

Senior point guard and captain Alex Barcello led the way for BYU with 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and perfect 6-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line. Matt Haarms and Brandon Averette joined him in double digits with 10 points each.

Both teams struggled to shoot the ball early, going a combined 2-for-10 to start the game tied 2-2. Johnson was the first Cougar off the bench and scored a quick four points to give BYU a 6-5 lead after five minutes of play.

Barcello scored two quick buckets in a row and BYU got out to a 12-7 lead with 13 minutes to go in the first half. Ball security became an issue for both squads in the first half, with five turnovers for BYU and four for SDSU in the opening 10 minutes.

Threes from Barcello and Trevin Knell gave BYU a quick 9-0 run and the Cougars took their first double-digit lead, 21-10 over the Aztecs with 9:26 left in the first half. SDSU brought it back within single digits, 27-18, with 2:36 to go, but back-to-back threes from Johnson and Barcello gave BYU its largest lead of 15, 33-18, in the final minute of the first half.

Barcello had 12 points in the opening half and BYU led SDSU 35-20 at the break. The Cougars out-rebounded the Aztecs 20-15 in the first 20 minutes and held SDSU without a field goal in the final three minutes of the period.

After trading baskets early in the second half, both teams went without a field goal for over three minutes. A 3-pointer from SDSU broke the drought and brought the Aztecs back within single digits, 42-34, with 13:25 remaining in the game.

Barcello broke a five-minute scoring drought for the Cougars with a runner to extend the lead back to 10, 44-34, and give the senior 14 points with 11:46 to go. SDSU hit some big shots, but BYU always found a way to respond, maintaining a double-digit lead, 55-44, with seven minutes left.

The Aztecs were able to bring it within single digits soon after, but back-to-back layups by Averette, with a steal in between, allowed BYU to extend the lead back to double digits. SDSU refused to go quietly, however, with Matt Mitchell draining a pair of 3-pointers, reaching 29 points on the night to bring the Aztecs back within single digits, 61-53, with under four minutes remaining.

Mitchell stayed hot for the Aztecs, drilling another triple to reach 32 points and make it a one-score game, 61-59 with two minutes to go. He got a dunk not long after to tie it at 61, but Haarms made a shot to give BYU a 63-61 lead with 1:11 left in the game.

Averette made what Pope called “the three of the game” with under a minute to go to give BYU a 66-62 lead, and the Cougars made free throws the rest of the way to secure the 10-point win.

The Top-25 win will go a long way to strengthen BYU’s resume for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament come March. The Cougars finish their non-conference slate next week with games against Texas Southern and Weber State on Dec. 21 and 23, respectively.

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