Stan Sheriff Center
1355 Lower Campus Road Honolulu HI 96822
Traore named to all-tournament team, leads BYU past Liberty
HONOLULU – True freshman forward Fousseyni Traore scored a career-high 19 points and led BYU men’s basketball to an 80-75 win over a hot-shooting Liberty team in the third-place game at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sherriff Center on Saturday afternoon.
“Our whole freshmen class has great upside, but Traore and Atiki have been thrown into service before they’re supposed to be,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “I don’t want to put them in situations that will mess with their confidence or put a lot of pressure on them, but Fouss is just like, ‘Why are you worried about that coach?’ He’s very special. We’re really blessed to have him.”
Traore posted his first career double-double as he complimented his scoring output with 13 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. In his first career start, Traore made his mark on all aspects of the game, shooting 7of-8 from the free throw line and registering an assist, steal and block.
The Bamako, Mali native was named to Diamond Head Classic All-Tournament Team for his career-day against the Flames.
BYU battled back from a game-high deficit of six at the beginning of the second half to take a lead at 40-38 off two straight possessions in which Traore scored in the post while drawing a foul and hitting the subsequent free-throws.
The Cougars and Flames continued to joust for the lead until BYU’s defense came up with four consecutive possessions with forced turnovers, including a block from Traore and steal by Spencer Johnson.
BYU’s takeaways turned into points with 3-pointers following from Trevin Knell and Gideon George.
Caleb Lohner scored on back-to-back possessions to give BYU its game-high lead of nine at 67-58 with under four minutes remaining.
Liberty hadn’t flamed-out quite yet though, as the Flames hit multiple 3-pointers to keep the game tight in the final minutes.
The Cougars preserved their lead and the win with key made free-throws in the waning moments of the game from Te’Jon Lucas and Alex Barcello.
Free-throw shooting proved critical as the Cougars made-up for a frigid 16% from distance with 83% from the charity stripe. BYU shot 47% from the field, 60% in the second half alone.
Liberty shot an almost deadly 41% from 3-point range 49% from distance but 67% from the free-throw line.
Knell scored a season-high 15 points, shooting 5-of-10 from the field, including 11 points in the second half. Lucas finished in double-figures with 11 points to go along with nine points a piece from George and Barcello.
The Cougars also outscored the Flames 38-30 in the paint and won the rebounding battle 35-23.
After five games on the road, BYU returns home to take on Westminster at the Marriott Center on Wednesday, Dec. 29. Watch the Cougars take-on the Griffins on BYUtv or tune-in for live play-by-play on BYU Radio, BYU Sports Network and KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM.
BYU faces Liberty on Christmas Day at Diamond Head Classic
HONOLULU, Hawaii – BYU play on Christmas Day for the second time in program history when they face Liberty in the third-place game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. MST at the Simplifi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
Saturday’s contest will be broadcast on ESPN2. It will also be broadcast live on BYU Sports Network on the BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2 and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.
BYU Notes (10-3, 0-0 West Coast Conference)
- BYU suffered just their third loss of the season on Thursday evening with a 69-67 setback to Vanderbilt. The Cougars outperformed the Commodores in nearly every offensive category but were unable to overcome a season-high 19 turnovers in the loss.
- Fousseyni Traore continues to impress as the freshman finished with nine points and a career-high 15 rebounds on Thursday. He has added two blocks to bring his season total to 15.
Head Coach – Mark Pope
- Alma Mater: Kentucky, 1996
- Division I Career Record: 131-73 (7th Season)
- Record at BYU: 54-17 (3rd Season)
Liberty Notes (8-5, 0-0 Athletic Sun Conference)
- Liberty enters Christmas Day at 8-5 following a 79-76 setback to Stanford in the early game on Thursday. Saturday will be the Flames eighth neutral site game of the season and fifth in their last six.
- Liberty’s Darius McGhee ranks first in the nation in 3-point field goals and attempts. The senior guard is averaging 21.4 points per game after tying a Liberty and Diamond Head Classic record with 41 points against Stanford.
Head Coach – Ritchie McKay
- Alma Mater: Seattle Pacific, 1987
- Division I Career Record: 350-256 (20th Season)
- Record at Liberty: 152-70 (7th Season)
- Series Record: BYU leads 1-0
- Last Meeting: BYU won 73-59, December 28, 2006
- H/A/N: 1-0/0-0/0-0
- TV: ESPN2
- TV Talent: Roxy Bernstein, Corey Williams
- Radio: BYU Sports Network, BYU Radio Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2, KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM
- Streamed Audio: BYURadio.org, BYUCougars.com/LiveRadio and the BYU Radio, BYU Cougars and BYU Gameday apps
- Radio Talent: Greg Wrubell, Mark Durrant
- Live stats: BYUCougars.com