Gideon George takes a shot against Texas Southern on Nov. 24. (BYU Photo)

‘Phantom Menaces’ George, Lucas lead BYU men’s basketball past Texas Southern, 81-64

Early breakout performances from Gideon George and Te’Jon Lucas carried BYU men’s basketball to an 81-64 victory over Texas Southern Wednesday night, giving the Cougars their first 5-0 start since Jimmermania in 2010.

The Cougars stumbled out of the gate and were held scoreless in the game’s first three minutes, but responded with a 25-10 run over the following 10 minutes and finished the half with a 13-point advantage. While shooting just 25% from deep and 39% from the field, BYU got the job done through rebounding, ball movement and timely defensive effort.

“I think we learned that we can be one of the best rebounding teams,” Lucas said. “Defense and rebounding is our main priority all the time.”

George recorded the third double-double of his career with 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, while amazingly avoiding any fouls despite his physical presence on the glass. Lucas had his finest outing as a Cougar, posting 18 points, seven assists and two steals while showing off more of his passing proficiency as BYU’s go-to playmaker.

In what was technically his least effective night of the young season, sharpshooter Alex Barcello still managed 12 points, four assists, five rebounds and four steals, proving his expansive value beyond just shooting, and more importantly, that BYU won’t need Barcello to dominate in every game in order to succeed.

Freshman sensation Fouss Traore added a new career-high of 13 points along with six rebounds and two blocks in limited action, even stepping back to hit a three and ignite the rowdy Marriott Center faithful. “That’s a big body, grown man freshman,” Lucas said of Traore.

Gavin Baxter — under his own minute restriction — showed flashes of dominance over 15 minutes of action, putting up 11 points with several monstrous dunks. Spencer Johnson pitched in for seven points and a pair of 3-pointers off the bench and Seneca Knight posted five points and seven boards.

The 5-0 Cougars — with four wins over last year’s tournament teams under their belt already — head north to Salt Lake this Saturday for a rivalry showdown with Utah, another undefeated squad looking to avenge last season’s loss

“It’s gonna be everything you’d want in an in-state game,” head coach Mark Pope said.

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