BYU thumps Southeastern Louisiana in historic 105-48 victory

BYU men’s hoops is red hot right now.

The Cougars continued their scorching start to the season with a 105-48 explosion over Southeastern Louisiana Wednesday night in Provo, giving Mark Pope his largest margin of victory ever at BYU.

“The thing I was most excited about was our team leadership,” Pope said. “We had an emotional game on Friday and we’ve been going long and hard. We had an opponent (tonight) that is picked to win their conference, but certainly did not come in here with the cachet that San Diego State did. There’s this human nature of a let down. Our leaders on our team and all the players on our team did an unbelievable job of taking this incredibly seriously.”

Seemingly everything that could go right did for the Cougars, who shot 50.7% from the field, scored 1.48 points per possession and dished out 28 assists as a team. Launching another 36 shots from behind the arc, BYU hit 15 3-pointers, including four from Trevin Knell and two from “stretch” Fouss Traore.

“I think the most exciting thing for me is how these guys are playing together and sacrificing for each other,” Pope said. “Once you start playing games, all of a sudden a stat sheet comes up and everybody is looking at what they’re getting and how they’re doing. That’s real for every player including every player on our team. I have a bunch of guys that are working really hard on absorbing all the frustration you might see on the sheet and try to do this for the team. That’s pretty special. The depth is going to be really important. It’s going to allow us to withstand the rigor of this insanity that is the Big 12 right now. The depth doesn’t do much good unless you have beautiful guys that will keep fighting for each other and we have that. Those two things in combination give us a chance.”

Conversely, Southeastern Louisiana played one of the worst possible games imaginable for a Division-I squad, shooting 29% from the field, 2-18 from deep and coughing up 15 turnovers. The Cougars capitalized by dominating the rebound margin 52-32, swiping seven steals and swatting five blocks.

“Our defense was at an elite level,” Pope said. “I was really proud. Our guys executed and the only way to execute that was talking in real time and making decisions in real time. Our guys were unbelievable tonight so I was really proud of us with how we responded on the defensive end of the ball tonight.”

Knell, Traore, Jaxson Robinson and Spencer Johnson each scored in double figures, with Johnson and Dallin Hall both adding six assists as well. Atiki Ally Atiki grabbed eight rebounds with a pair of blocks, while Richie “dirty work” Saunders posted nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

BYU’s dominant effort bumped Pope’s posse up to No. 16 in the national KenPom rankings as the Cougars now prepare to host Morgan State Saturday at 7 p.m.

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