BYU guard Alex Barcello, left, shoots next to Oregon forward Quincy Guerrier during the second half in Portland on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

BYU men’s basketball ‘just does it,’ takes down No. 12 Oregon 81-49 in Phil Knight Invitational

The BYU men’s basketball team made its season debut on the national stage on Tuesday, taking down No. 12 Oregon in dominant fashion, 81-49, at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland on ESPN.

Alex Barcello led the way once again for the Cougars, putting up 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three. Fellow guards Te’Jon Lucas and Spencer Johnson joined Barcello in double digits with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Big men Gavin Baxter and Fouss Traore were impressive down low for BYU, with Baxter putting up seven points, five rebounds and two blocks, and Traore having a big night with 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

BYU’s defense was the story all night, holding the Ducks to 32% shooting from the field and 21% from three. BYU outrebounded Oregon 34-25 and outscored the Ducks 42-28 in the paint. BYU never trailed in the game.

“The coaches were stressing how this would be a defensive battle and this game would be won on the defensive end,” Baxter said. “The keys were to play defense and get rebounds.”

Barcello came out aggressive from the start, scoring the game’s first two points on a pull-up jumper to put BYU up 2-0.

The Cougars started the game on a 6-0 run before Oregon hit a 3-pointer before the first timeout to make it 6-3.

Another run for the Cougars, this time 9-0, helped BYU to a 15-8 lead midway through the first half. Barcello wowed the commentators when he pulled up from NBA range and drained his first 3-pointer of the game.

Traore also got going early for the Cougars off the bench as the first-year big man continues to impress. He had six points with 11 minutes to go in the first half.

BYU kept coming at the Ducks on both sides of the floor, looking every bit a Power 5 basketball squad. The Cougars got their first double-digit lead, 21-11, with 7:55 left in the first half. The starting backcourt of Barcello and Lucas had 11 of the 21 points for BYU.

The Cougars kept their foot on the pedal, going up by as many as 18, 30-12, with under four minutes to go in the first half. Barcello was the first player in double digits with 10 after hitting his second 3-pointer of the night to give BYU 30 points.

Johnson put up a three to beat the shot clock and gave BYU a 20-point lead, 33-13, with under two minutes to go until halftime.

Barcello did not miss a shot in the first half, going 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from three for 13 points, helping the Cougars to a 37-18 lead over the Ducks at the break.

Five minutes into the second half, it became clear BYU fans were watching a special game from Barcello. The BYU senior reached 20 points on a perfect 8-of-8 from the field, putting BYU up 47-26. Lucas joined his backcourt mate in double digits with 12 after his second made three of the night, giving BYU 50 points.

Barcello finally missed a shot soon after on a deep 3-pointer in transition. Even with Barcello coming down to Earth, the BYU defense remained constant and spurred the Cougars to a dominant finish.

The Ducks brought it within 20, 54-36, with 11:41 to go in the game, but it was all Cougars after that, with BYU outscoring Oregon 27-13 over the final 11:41.

Head coach Mark Pope emptied the bench in the final minutes, as Trey Stewart, Nate Hansen, Casey Brown and Hunter Erickson got their first action of the season. The final 32-point margin set a new record for the largest BYU win margin against a ranked opponent.

“Our guys answered the bell,” Pope said. “I’m super, super proud of their effort.”

BYU returns to Provo to take on Central Methodist on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center.

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