Austin Rustand | Posted: 12 Feb 2022 | Updated: 21 Mar 2022

BYU takes down Pepperdine behind Barcello's career night

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Alex Barcello Pepperdine 2022

MALIBU, Calif. — BYU leaned on Alex Barcello’s career night to take down Pepperdine, 91-85, on Saturday evening at the Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif. 

"It’s never easy to win on the road,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. "I’m really proud of how the guys got back to sharing the ball and making plays for each other. A lot of guys were trying to make plays for each other tonight. Alex was the beneficiary of some of that, but he is just a really good basketball player. I mean, the kid is incredible.”

Barcello scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Cougars to their second straight victory. Barcello went 10-for-12 from the floor, 9-of-10 from behind the arc and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. He is one of only three players in BYU men's basketball history to make nine or more threes in a game, joining Chase Fischer and Jimmer Fredette. Fischer is the only player with more than nine, recording 10 in 2014.

"I give all the credit to my teammates,” Barcello said. “The guys were telling me to keep shooting, they kept finding me, and thankfully I was able to hit some shots tonight. I thought we played really well as a team and were able to create for each other on the offensive side of the ball, which is really special."

BYU had four players in double figures and shot a scorching 64 percent from the field, 65.2 percent from three-point range and went 12-of-16 from the free throw line, including hitting five free-throws in the final minute to seal the victory.

Caleb Lohner finished with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, 2-of-2 from three-point land, grabbed four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Spencer Johnson scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds, recorded two assists and a steal in the win. Te’Jon Lucas was quiet early, but turned it on down the stretch going 3-for-4 from the field, made his only three of the night and made three free-throws, scoring all 10 of his points with less than 3:51 left in the game.

Pepperdine had three players in double figures, including two with more than 20 points. Houston Mallette had 31 points on 9-of-11 shots, 5-of-6 from three and 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.

Despite the Cougars being without another starting center in the game, with Fousseyni Traore sitting out, BYU still dominated on the glass in the game, outrebounding Pepperdine 30-16, only giving the Waves two offensive rebounds.

First Half

Pepperdine scored the first five points of the game before Seneca Knight opened the scoring for the Cougars with a right elbow jumper. Pepperdine scored four straight points to take a 9-2 lead but Barcello pulled the Cougars within four with the first of his six first half 3-pointers.

By the first media timeout, the Cougars found themselves down 14-8 to the Waves who had made all five shots they took in the first four minutes including two 3-pointers and a pair from the line.

Out of the timeout, Pepperdine extended their lead to eight before missing their first shot and Barcello hitting three triples on three-straight possessions to get BYU within one and force Pepperdine to take a timeout.

After committing five turnovers in 4:10, the Cougars found themselves down 22-17 with Barcello scoring 15 of the Cougars 17 points.

Lohner got his first bucket of the game on slip-screen roll after which Pepperdine went on a 9-2 run to extend the lead to 27-19.

Knight was fouled on a three-point attempt which started a 10-0 Cougar run to take a three-point lead with 6:54 left in the first half. After the Knight free-throws, Johnson beat his man baseline for a layup followed by a Lohner corner three. Barcello capped off the 10-point run with a floater in the lane and the Waves took their second timeout.

Coming out of the timeout Knight found Atiki Ally Atiki for a two-handed dunk followed by a Gideon George put back to take a four-point lead.

After a Pepperdine bucket, Johnson hit his first three of the game from the right corner to give the Cougars a five-point lead going into the under-four-minute media timeout.

Ally Atiki scored his second basket of the night followed by five-straight points from the Waves to cut the lead to five.

After a strong screen, Knell found himself wide open on the left wing and pulled the trigger for his first points of the night. BYU stifled the Waves on the ensuing possession and grabbed the rebound with 34 seconds left in the half. Barcello held for the least shot of the half, came off a screen and hit a 25-footer to give the Cougars a 10-point lead heading into halftime.

Second Half

Pepperdine started the second half the same way they started the first half. The Waves scored five straight to cut the BYU lead to five. Again, Barcello calmed the Cougars down with a left-wing kick-out three before the Waves scored six more to whittle the BYU lead to two with 17:24 left.

Lohner scored seven-straight for the Cougars including a corner three, a nifty jump-hook and a jumper to again give BYU some breathing room with a nine-point lead.

Lucas recorded three straight assists for a Barcello three, an Ally Atiki jump-hook and a Johnson corner-three.

Pepperdine’s Houston Mallette hit two-straight deep threes to help the Waves claw back into the game after being down 13. BYU used its second timeout

Out of the timeout, Barcello hit another three to set a new career high with 31 points and give the Cougars an eight-point advantage.

The Cougars and Waves continued to trade buckets until Pepperdine scores five straight to cut the BYU lead to three with 5:21 to play.

After back-to-back buckets from Johnson and Ally Atiki, Pepperdine’s Jan Zidek hit two threes to keep the Waves within striking distance but Lucas took and made his first three of the game and a step-through scoop and score to give the Cougars a six-point lead with 2:55 to go.

After the Waves cut the lead to five, Lucas and Mallett traded baskets to maintain a five-point BYU advantage. The Waves played the foul game down the stretch, sending Barcello and Lucas to the line who made their free-throws and closed out the game for the Cougars with a 91-85.

BYU moves to 19-8 on the season, 7-5 in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars next travel to Moraga, California on Thursday to take on the No. 22 Saint Mary’s Gaels.

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