Cameron Muh | Posted: 18 Dec 2020 | Updated: 8 Nov 2021

BYU holds off SDSU for big road win

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Brandon Averettte mean mugging after hitting a big shot
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SAN DIEGO – BYU men's basketball (7-2) handed No. 18 San Diego State its first loss of the season, beating the Aztecs 72-62 in Viejas Arena and avenging a November loss at the Marriott Center to the Aztecs last season. 

"This [San Diego State] team is really good," said BYU head coach Mark Pope. "I was having these nightmares of us having zero points for the first 19 minutes of the game, and that's what they've done. They've let one team score over 60 points all season long, and they played a really tough schedule also. I do think there's a very legitimate chance they don't lose another game this season until the postseason. They're that good. So to come in here and get out with the win is just a tribute to our guys and how tough they are."

Alex Barcello led BYU with 22 points on 7-11 shooting, with seven rebounds and seven assists. Brandon Averette and Matt Haarms each added 10 points, with Haarms also contributing eight rebounds. 

After a scoreless first two minutes by both teams, the Cougars scored first on a Kolby Lee floater. Spencer Johnson knocked down a baseline jumper and BYU took a 4-2 lead. A driving Johnson layup then put the Cougars up 6-5. 

An elbow jumper by Barcello gave BYU a three-point advantage before the Aztecs once again made it a one-point game. Barcello got a floater to go and Harward scored on a back-down layup to put the Cougars up 12-7. Trevin Knell then hit a transition three and BYU had a 15-10 lead.

Barcello swished a deep 3-pointer and Knell knocked down another triple in transition, capping a 9-0 run that put the Cougars up 11. During that run, SDSU missed nine consecutive shots before they finally completed a three-point play to make it 21-13. 

Caleb Lohner scored on a tip-in and Haarms got a reverse layup to go, making it 25-15. BYU. Barcello hit a floater off the glass, Johnson nailed a transition kick-out three, and then Barcello swished a corner three, putting the Cougars up 33-18. 

Two Connor Harding free throws then gave BYU a game-high 17-point lead but the Aztecs also knocked down a pair at the charity stripe on the other end, making it a 15-point game at the half with the Cougars up 35-20. 

BYU held SDSU to no field goals in the final 3:03 of the first half. The Aztecs shot 25% from the field and 18% from three in the half. Matt Mitchell led the team with nine points at the break.

The Cougars shot 52% from the field in the half and 36% from beyond the arc. Barcello led BYU with 12 points on 5-6 shooting. He also had three rebounds and five assists in the first 20 minutes. 

Lee opened the second half with a back-down hook shot and the Cougars had an early 17-point second half lead. Two straight baskets by the Aztecs cut the lead to 13 before a Haarms tip-in extended the lead back to 15.

Another 4-0 SDSU run had the lead down to 11, but Lohner made two free throws for a 41-28, BYU lead. Johnson went 1-2 from the line before Mitchell hit a three for the Aztecs, making it an eight-point game at 42-34. Barcello then pushed the lead back to 10 on a driving floater. 

Haarms followed a Harward miss with a tip-in and Barcello scored on a backdoor layup to put BYU up 48-37. A pair of Knell free throws gave the Cougars another 10-point advantage at 50-40. Haarms then scored on a drop-step layup and it was 52-42.

Averette got his first points of the game, nailing a big 3-pointer that put BYU up 55-44. Mitchell completed a three-point play for the Aztecs, but back-to-back Averette layups gave the Cougars a 12-point lead, forcing an SDSU timeout.

A pair of Barcello free throws made it 61-47, BYU, but a 6-0 Aztec run on two Mitchell triples cut it to 61-53. Two more SDSU treys and a Mitchell dunk capped a 14-0 run for the Aztecs that tied it up at 61. A Haarms floater finally ended the run and put the Cougars back up 63-61. 

SDSU’s Mitchell went 1-2 from the free throw line, making it a one-point game before Averette knocked down another huge triple, putting BYU ahead 66-62. After an Aztec turnover, Barcello hit two pairs of free throws. Harding added another two free throws to seal it for the Cougars, who would leave Viejas Arena with a 10-point win, 72-62.

The Aztecs shot 37% from the field and 36% from the free in the game. Mitchell kept SDSU in it with 35 points on 12-17 shooting, but no other Aztec scored more than eight points.

BYU outrebounded SDSU by 14, scored 11 more bench points and 10 more points in the paint than the Aztecs. The Cougars shot 46% from the field and 30% from deep. Johnson and Knell each scored eight points. Lee finished with four points and five rebounds. Harding also scored four points and grabbed four boards.

The Cougars will be back in the Marriott Center on Monday, Dec. 21, to play Texas Southern at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on BYUtv and broadcast on the BYU Sports Network on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2 and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.

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