Averette leads BYU to 87-71 win over Texas Southern
PROVO, Utah — Brandon Averette dropped a career-high 30 points to lift BYU men’s basketball to an 87-71 win over Texas Southern Monday night at the Marriott Center.
Averette, coming off a clutch performance against San Diego State last Friday, drained a game-high six 3-pointers against the Tigers (2-5) while also adding five rebounds, two steals and an assist. Averette shot 10 of 19 from the floor, including 6 of 13 from distance, in 33 minutes of action.
"We were stressing this game, probably more than we were San Diego State," Averette said. "Those big-time, top 25 ranked games, we’re always going to show up for those games, but these kinds of lower-level games — teams tend to overlook those games and might slip up. Coach kept reminding us that this was going to be the hardest game of the year for us, and I think we took on that mentality, and we went out there and handled our business."
Matt Haarms paced the Cougars (8-2) in the first half, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the first 20 minutes and finishing the game with four rebounds, one block and one steal. Alex Barcello recorded his first double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and dishing out a career-high 10 assists to go along with four rebounds.
Richard Harward also reached double figures in scoring, tallying 13 points and adding five rebounds and four assists. Connor Harding added nine points and five assists while Caleb Lohner had six rebounds, two points, two assists and a steal.
As a team, BYU shot 48% from the field and 38% from three while holding Texas Southern to 41% shooting. The Cougars jumped out to a 28-15 lead just over eight minutes into the game and never let the Tigers come within nine points the remainder of the night.
Kolby Lee made a hook shot on the first possession of the game before Haarms hit a pair of free throws and threw down a two-handed dunk to give BYU an early 6-0 lead. A Harding 3-pointer followed by back-to-back triples from Barcello extended the Cougars’ lead to 10, 21-11, six minutes into the game. Another Harding 3-pointer and a Richard Harward hook shot then gave BYU a 28-16 lead.
Brandon Averette drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Barcello hit a floater in the lane as the Cougars took a 34-21 lead with 8:33 left in the half. Haarms ended a four-minute scoring drought for BYU with a lay-in before hitting a pair of free throws to put the Cougars up 40-27 with 2:25 until halftime. Haarms then hit a mid-range jumper as BYU took a 42-32 lead at the break.
Following a Barcello fast-break layup, Averette converted a three-point play then hit a deep 3-pointer to put the Cougars up 50-34 early in the second half. BYU then scored a flurry of points down low, as baskets in the paint by Haarms and Lohner as well as a pair of dunks by Harward gave the Cougars a 61-39 advantage. The Tigers responded, however, with a 13-0 run to cut BYU’s lead to single digits, 61-52, with 8:50 remaining.
Averette hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and Harding added one from the corner to then build the Cougars’ lead back up to 15, 67-52. Averette ended an 8-2 Texas Southern run with another triple and a fast-break layup while getting fouled to put BYU up 74-60 with 5:09 left in the game.
Averette continued his hot shooting, as he got a fast-break layup to go before hitting another 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Cougars an 81-61 advantage with 2:48 remaining. Harward made a layup while being fouled and Averette drained yet another triple to put BYU up 17, 86-69, with under a minute left. Averette hit one final free throw as the Cougars came away with the 87-71 win.
“I’m really, really pleased with our team," Pope said. "This is a really dangerous team and took Saint Mary’s to the wire at their place — actually started the game up 12-2 and really put it on them, came back from 21-down to beat Wyoming, played Auburn even on the road for 25 minutes. They’re a group of high-major Division I transfers. Johnny Jones is a big-time coach. We were feeling a lot of anxiety about this game, and we felt like it was a real test of our team’s maturity, and I think they answered the bell. I’m super proud of them.”
Up next, BYU takes on Weber State on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. MST and the matchup will be broadcast live on BYUtv and on the BYUtv App.
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