Vanderbilt guard Trey Thomas (12) guards BYU guard Alex Barcello (13) during the first half in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

BYU men’s basketball falls 69-67 to Vanderbilt in Diamond Head Classic semifinal

Scottie Pippen Jr. scored 23 points in a clutch homage to his father’s Chicago teammate to put away the BYU men’s basketball team 69-67 at the Diamond Head Classic on Thursday.

Pippen outscored BYU 16-10 over the final 7:21 of the game, but BYU’s star, Alex Barcello, had a shot of his own to tie the game in the final seconds, falling just short on a floater.

BYU started the game 3-of-3 from three but made just five the remainder of the game. Despite a 43-31 lead on the boards, BYU lost the points-in-the-paint battle 30-28, and made an unforgivable 19 turnovers, which Vanderbilt capitalized on for 18 points.

Ten of the Cougars’ turnovers came in the first half, after which BYU led Vanderbilt 35-30. During halftime, BYU radio commentator Greg Wrubell tweeted out that BYU had a 9-1 record this season when leading at halftime and Vanderbilt had yet to win a game this when trailing at the break (0-3), foreshadowing the unlikely comeback for the Commodores.

The signs of a potential BYU letdown came early in the second half, as Vanderbilt took a 38-37 lead and starters Barcello and Trevin Knell picked up their third fouls.

BYU’s newly-minted, makeshift frontcourt of Caleb Lohner and Fouss Traore was a bright spot on the evening, with Lohner hitting his second three of the season en route to 11 points, and Traore putting up a career-high 15 rebounds.

Spencer Johnson continued to bring hustle off the bench, scoring 11 points, including a first-half buzzer-beater, and adding four rebounds and three assists, all while not making a single 3-pointer.

A large number of BYU’s 19 turnovers against Vanderbilt were offensive fouls, often coming at inopportune times and giving Vanderbilt an opening to take or extend the lead.

The final blow came on a turnover by Lohner in the backcourt as Pippen swiped the ball and got the easy basket to seal the win.

The Cougars take on Liberty in the Diamond Head Classic consolation game on Christmas Day.

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