Gideon George leads Cougars in 105-60 blowout win over Portland

The BYU men’s basketball team dismantled the Portland Pilots 105-60 in Portland on Thursday, moving to 15-4 on the season and 6-2 in West Coast Conference play. 

Junior forward Gideon George started for the first time in his BYU career, and he did not disappoint. George led the team with 19 points and 13 rebounds to get the second double-double of his career. The entire Portland team had just 12 rebounds total in the game.

The other four BYU starters joined George in double figures. Brandon Averette had 15 points, Matt Haarms had 15, Alex Barcello had 12 and Caleb Lohner had 11. Junior guard Connor Harding also came away with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

“Back home in Nigeria, I used to stay up all night watching NCAA and NBA games,” George said. “Being able to play here right now is a blessing for me. And my friends watching me back home is a big blessing for me. I’m not taking it for granted.” 

George looked right at home in the starting lineup. Within the first five minutes he scored three quick points and pulled off a beautiful no-look pass to Haarms to put BYU up 12-8.

Sophomore guard Trevin Knell has turned into a clutch 3-point shooter for BYU, and tonight was no exception. He hit an effortless shot from beyond the arc to extend the Cougars’ lead to 23-11 with 12:45 left in the half.

Harding was quiet in recent games, but that ended tonight. He seemed to always be open, knocking down outside shots with ease. Harding hit a couple of huge threes, including one to put BYU up 26-11.

The Cougars made 7-of-11 threes in the first half, for a shooting percentage of 63.6.

BYU finished off the first half in dominant fashion, going on a 14-0 run in the last 3:50 to put the Cougars up 52-30 going into the locker room. George in particular looked to be toying with the Pilots in the first half, showing off a spin move to get around defenders and reach the basket.

George started the second half off without a hitch, hitting a trio of difficult shots to extend the Cougars’ lead to 67-42.

The other BYU players followed his example, easily blowing past the Portland defenders as if they were standing still. The Cougars extended the lead to 81-45 over the following five minutes for a 36-point advantage with 9:31 left to play.

The game felt over at that point. The Cougars were unstoppable, and the Pilots had no answer. Everything they tried was quickly shut down, and the Cougars went on another run. The last ten minutes were played mostly out of formality.

BYU outscored Portland 24-15 in the final 9:14, propelling the Cougars to a very one-sided 45-point victory.

“This game tonight was a testament to what these guys are trying to accomplish in their locker room,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “It’s a hard game, it’s a hard time of year, it’s been a hard road trip. I’m super proud of what these guys are giving to the team.”

The Cougars will return to the Marriott Center on Monday, Feb. 8 to play No. 1 Gonzaga. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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