BYU Basketball Makes Statement With Thrashing Of Pac-12 Power Oregon
PROVO, Utah – If you didn’t believe in BYU basketball making some national noise this year, believe now.
Mark Pope’s squad rolled into the Moda Center against the No. 12 Oregon Ducks as an underdog. But they left the home of the Blazers, proving they should have been the Top 25 team, not the Ducks.
ESPN’s Sean Farnham felt the same way.
“This BYU team is really good, folks,” said Farnham during the BYU-Oregon broadcast.
BYU dominated nationally-ranked Oregon from start to finish with an 81-49 victory.
Historically in games against Power Six basketball opponents, BYU has needed off the charts offensive performances to come away victorious. Especially against a talented roster like Oregon’s that featured former five-star recruits off the bench. But it wasn’t the offense at first for BYU; it was the defense.
BYU’s defense put the clamp on Oregon from the jump and the high-powered Ducks never could find their way offensively. As a result, Oregon went into the halftime locker room with only 18 points, the lowest first-half output for Dana Altman’s program since 2019.
Oregon finished the night shooting 32% from the field and was outrebounded 34-25 by BYU. Areas that no one outside of Pope’s locker room expected to see happen. But that aggressive mentality gave BYU the confidence that they could get it done against the Ducks, who seemed to lack energy the entire night.
Dana Altman couldn’t solve the Rubik’s Cube that was BYU Basketball
Altman, one of the great coaches in college basketball, typically solves Rubik’s Cubes, according to College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein. Unfortunately for Altman, there was no solving the game plan that Pope and his staff put together for the Ducks.
Coming into Tuesday night, BYU was 1-20 versus ranked non-conference opponents. But, of course, you’d never know that based on the wire-to-wire dismantling of Oregon, the Cougars largest win over a nationally-ranked team in program history.
Alex Barcello continues to be a star
Alex Barcello was flawless, scoring 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field to go along with two assists and no turnovers. The senior captain, who has every day been motivated by the shortcomings in the NCAA Tournament a season ago, was a man who looked like he wouldn’t be denied. Barcello had complete control of BYU’s offense. Whether it was picking his spots to shoot, finding a teammate for an extra pass, or getting to the hoop, it was Barcello’s crowning moment of his BYU career.
He picked the perfect night –nearly almost perfect on the night as he was 9-of-11 from the field– to do it as numerous NBA scouts were on hand at the Moda Center to watch the two western powers square off for the first time since 2014.
Mark Pope in the postgame called out how a national analyst said Barcello was a “darkhorse” All-American candidate. Pope said, “I don’t understand that. Who in the country has done what he’s done in the first three games?”
Barcello’s running mate in the backcourt Te’Jon Lucas had his best game to date as a BYU Cougar, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and knocking down two three-pointers. Lucas made the three-point line a top priority in his development when picking BYU over the likes of Kansas.
The BYU Bench Mob
BYU’s bench mob was dynamite outscoring the Ducks 33-6 led by Spencer Johnson and Fousseyni Traore. Johnson had some extra incentive in this game facing his brother, Isaac, on the opposite sideline. When his seven-foot brother touched the floor with around six minutes remaining in the game, Johnson saved his best for last, knocking down a shot, then making a behind-the-back pass to Gideon George for a statement slam.
The calm, collected Traore wasn’t fazed by the big stage, again pouring in 10 points and pulling six rebounds. He also added two blocks, including one against Oregon’s former five-star big man N’Faly Dante.
In his young BYU basketball career, Seneca Knight played his best game, showing a relentless effort on the offensive glass. Speaking of effort, starting center Gavin Baxter, a talented center that has been plagued by injuries in his career, appears to be healthy. Baxter showcased that above-the-rim play on both ends of the floor that once made him a Top-100 recruit, leaving Cougar fans excited for his growth this season as he continues to get game time under his belt.
Room for BYU basketball to grow
What’s scary is that BYU didn’t need much from star Caleb Lohner on the offensive end. The preseason All-WCC selection scored only two points in the win. Imagine what BYU could become when he starts to find his groove again on the offensive end of the floor.
The Cougars are also still without preseason starter Richard Harward due to cardiovascular issues.
BYU entered the game as a team in the “receiving votes” section of the AP Top 25. However, the 32-point, wire-to-wire win over Oregon lets everyone around the nation know BYU should be in that AP Top 25 next week. And they’ll be there as the Cougars finally catch a breath with their schedule as they host an NAIA team this Saturday after a grueling three-game stretch that is bound to pay dividends when March rolls around.
Mark Pope and this BYU team made it loud and clear, they are ready to be in the national conversation throughout the entire season. Message sent.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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