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BYU Basketball Holds Off Run From Pepperdine To Secure Fourth-Straight Win

BYU forward/center Matt Haarms knocks down a shot with the shot clock expiring against Pepperdine on January 23rd, 2021. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, UtahΒ – BYU basketball took down Pepperdine on Saturday night, 65-54, in a game that saw the Cougars 16-point second-half lead trimmed down to three. The Cougars dug deep and secured an 11-point victory for their fourth-straight win in WCC play.

BYU/Pepperdine Pregame

For the fourth consecutive game, BYU used the same starting five to open. Trevin Knell, who scored nine points in his first career home start against Portland, started at three with Alex Barcello, Brandon Averette, Matt Haarms, and glue guy Kolby Lee.

1st Half –Β 

Both BYU and Pepperdine opened the game shooting the ball well. Each team was shooting over 60 percent from the field before the first media stoppage.

Pepperdine got the scoring started early from guys outside of their stars Colbey Ross and Kessler Edwards. BYU then took the lead for the first time with a three from Trevin Knell to put the Cougs up 10-9.

Then Brandon Averette had an impressive take to the rim with a euro step and a scoop-and-score to give BYU a 12-9 advantage at the first stoppage.

In the Portland game on Thursday, Gideon George didn’t check into the game until the 13-minute mark of the second half. Mark Pope acknowledged that was a mistake on his end. He put the junior college transfer in immediately after the first break.

George got off to a shaky start with a turnover that led to a quick bucket for the Waves.

BYU then got a little bit of separation courtesy of Brandon Averette, who got to the hoop on a fastbreak for a layup and then hit a three on the following possession. Averette scored nine of BYU’s first 18 points.

After the under-12 timeout, Pepperdine’s Kessler Edwards and Colbey Ross had yet to score any points.

Edwards ended his scoring drought after BYU’s Caleb Lohner picked up his second foul. He hit one of his two free throws.

With an eight-point lead in favor of BYU after the under-eight timeout, the uptempo pace of Pepperdine started to slow down due to officials and stoppage.

BYU center Matt Haarms took a shot to the head that the officials reviewed. Did not see a flagrant foul. A few possessions later, Alex Barcello was battling for a loose ball with the Waves Kendall Munson. Barcello took an elbow to the face and was called for a foul.

Barcello lost part of his tooth, and officials reviewed the play and called a flagrant on Munson. Munson then missed his free throw after the personal foul called on Barcello.

Trevin Knell hit his third three of the game, but the game’s pace consisted of a lot of whistles. The first half didn’t end until 9:07 p.m. (MT).

BYU went into the halftime locker room with a 37-26 lead over Pepperdine. Brandon Averette led BYU in scoring with 13 points. The Waves only shot 22-percent from the field in the first half.

Alex Barcello closed the first half with zero points.

2nd Half – Pepperdine makes a big run, BYU holds them off

BYU has been a second-half team this season, especially as of late. That was not the case on Saturday against Pepperdine. But they closed out strong.

Pepperdine’s duo of Ross and Edwards started to heat in the second frame as they combined for 32 points in the game.

But first, the Cougars built their lead up to a game-high 16 points at 55-39, then the game changed.

Pepperdine popped off a 12-0 run to make BYU sweat and hold on to a four-point lead. BYU head coach Mark Pope burned a timeout with 6:20 remaining after Ross missed a jumper in the paint.

Out of the timeout, BYU big man Richard Harward knocked down a baby hook bucket at the basket over Edwards to give the Cougars some breathing room.

Edwards then hit a three to get it back down to a one-possession game. Matt Haarms then missed the front-end of a one-and-one, but the Waves, couldn’t capitalize. The Waves had three consecutive possessions that came up empty-handed, and the third one saw Averette get a hand in the passing lane at the under-four stoppage.

BYU forward Connor Harding gave the Cougars a huge lift off the bench, pulling down a career-high 10 rebounds, and he was all over Ross on the defensive end late in the game. Harding and Averette forced a steal on a pass intended for Ross, and it then led to the play of the game on the offensive end for BYU.

With the shot clock expiring, Matt Haarms knocked down a long two to put BYU up by seven points, 61-54, and from there, the Cougars closed out the game with an 11-point victory.

BYU secured their fourth consecutive victory on a night where their leader Alex Barcello scored zero field goals and made four points.

The Cougars shot 38 percent from the field and 26 from three. But the Waves weren’t any better. Pepperdine shot 29 and 26 percent respectively as BYU improved to 13-3 overall and 4-1 in WCC play.

Both teams will meet up again in Malibu on Wednesday afternoon in a rescheduled game originally supposed to be played on December 31st.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter:Β @Mitch_Harper.

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