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Arizona Transfer Barcello Leads BYU To Victory In First Game Of Pope Era

PROVO, Utah – The first game of the Mark Pope era at BYU got off to a great start. Thanks in large part to Arizona transfer Alex Barcello.

Barcello who received a waiver from the NCAA to play this season after transferring from the Wildcats this past summer led BYU in scoring with 17 points in an opening night victory over Cal State Fullerton.

BYU rolled over Fullerton from the Big West Conference to a tune of 76-58 that featured Barcello in the starting five to open the game.

Barcello’s 17 points tied senior TJ Haws for most points scored in the game. But it was the Barcello’s “bulldog” attitude on the defensive end that jump-started a BYU team that found themselves down early in the game.

“I look at it as a blessing. It’s great to come out and play with such great guys and such a great team. I’m very thankful and I was grateful to play with these guys and for a great coaching staff,” Barcello said.

At the 16:09 mark, Barcello had a help defense block that fans could have heard in the upper-deck with how hard he smacked the Fullerton shot attempt. After that block, BYU was off and running. The Cougars then went on a 28-11 run to build up a 31-18 lead.

BYU was never threated in the second half of the game and they cruised to an 18-point win in Mark Pope’s first regular-season game as head coach.

Barcello’s 17 points were a career-high for him in his collegiate career. His previous high was last year at Arizona when he scored 16 points against Georgia Southern.

“He’s really good man,” said Mark Pope on Alex Barcello. “The thing about Alex that helps us so much is that he’s so physical off the bounce. You can’t move him. He’s just so physical and tough and he’s a beautiful compliment to TJ (Haws) … so those guys have a little yin and yang personality in the backcourt that’s going to be important for us.”

This was the Cougars’ first game without star forward Yoeli Childs, who’s serving a nine-game suspension handed down by the NCAA. BYU’s frontcourt consisted of Kolby Lee and Dalton Nixon to start the game and then evolved into combinations that featured Connor Harding, Zac Seljaas, and Nixon.

Harding and Seljaas coming off the bench scored 17 points and had 16 rebounds between the two of them. Harding led all BYU players in +/- at +26 on the night.

All offseason leading up opening night, Pope’s team was putting up hundreds, if not thousands, of three-point shots with ShotTracker. The advanced analytics approach worked on night one as BYU shot 45.8-percent from behind the te arc. That shooting from deep was 10-percent better than Fullerton who only made five three’s the entire night.

Next Up: Former MWC Rival

BYU is 1-0 on the season and now prepares to take on former Mountain West Conference rival San Diego State on Saturday at the Marriott Center. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. and will be televised on BYUtv. Radio coverage begins at 12 p.m. on Saturday with Cougar Sports Saturday on KSL Newsradio.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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