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Matt Haarms - BYU Basketball
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Three Observations From BYU Hoops Loss Against USC

BYU forward/center Matt Haarms talks with head coach Mark Pope during practice. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU Cougars suffered their first defeat of the season in a blowout loss to the USC Trojans 79-53.

Matt Haarms and Gideon George led the Cougars in scoring with 11 points. More on Gideon George in my three observations.

BYU wasn’t able to overcome a poor shooting afternoon. If not for two late triples from Jesse Wade and Wyatt Lowell, the Cougars would have finished the game shooting 18 percent from behind the arc.

Thanks to those late buckets, BYU finished shooting 23 percent from downtown.

It’s hard to beat anybody in college basketball shooting like that. The Cougars weren’t much better from inside the arc either, shooting 28 percent from the field.

This is one of the games that the tape should be burned and memories forgotten. At the end of the day, if BYU had made more shots, it would have been a different basketball game.

1. Gideon George showing up

It wasn’t all bad for Head Coach Mark Pope. Gideon George made a strong case for more playing in time in the future as the coaching staff continues to tweak the rotation.

George pulled down six rebounds, which tied Haarms for a team high. He scored 11 points as well, which also tied Haarms for a team high in that category.

He did have a negative 23 in plus/minus which was the lowest of any BYU player. I don’t read much into that statistic. He shot 50 percent from the field, which was almost double the shooting percentage for the team.

I love his length and versatility. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t see an increase in minutes.

2. Rebounding was an issue

The Cougars were out-rebounded 50-35 on the glass. USC is one the taller teams BYU will face, but that kind of effort on the glass will be something that needs to be fixed.

Rebounding was an issue last year as well, but this years team is much taller.

Richard Harward played 13 minutes and pulled down two rebounds. He’ll need to more aggressive on the boards if this team is going to make it the NCAA tournament.

It’s safe to say that losing Gavin Baxter is a bigger deal than anyone anticipated. The Cougars could have used his length and athleticism in this matchup.

BYU pulled down 15 offensive rebounds which was positive, but it resulted in zero second chance points. That’s an unbelievable statistic. It was one of games for BYU where the lack of shot making took it’s toll on other parts of the game.

3. Bench scoring

The Cougar bench produced 25 points for Coach Pope. If guys like Gideon George, Trevin Knell, and Jesse Wade can make this a habit then it should alleviate some pressure on the starters to carry the scoring load.

I don’t expect the starting to group to routinely contribute 28 points in a game. If so, it could be a long season.

At the end of the day, I think this was an off night for the Cougars. These types of games happen.

It’s easy to remember the highs from last season, but T.J. Haws and Jake Toolson had a similar loss at the beginning of the year versus Boise State.

That team found their stride shortly after tough losses against Boise State and Utah.

Coach Pope hasn’t lost two games in a row since being at the helm in Provo. The next matchup versus St. John’s will be a good gut check for BYU.

You can hear Matt Baiamonte every Saturday on KSL Newsradio for Cougar Sports Saturday from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. or you can find him on Twitter here.

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