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Three Observations From BYU’s Blowout Victory Over Central Methodist

Nov 20, 2021, 9:18 PM
BYU Basketball - Caleb Lohner...
BYU basketball forward Caleb Lohner drives to the rim against Central Methodist on November 20, 2021. (Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – For the first time in the Mark Pope era, BYU basketball has opened a season at 4-0. The red-hot Cougars took down NAIA Central Methodist 97-61.

Forward Gavin Baxter earned player of the game honors in the Marriott Center for his play in the win scoring 13 points and pulling down five rebounds in 14 minutes. Baxter continues to inch closer towards being at 100% health after suffering an ACL injury nearly one year ago.

Along with Baxter, here are three more observations from BYU’s blowout victory over CMU.

#1 BYU basketball fans showing up

When former BYU head coach Dave Rose first arrived in Provo as an assistant coach on Steve Cleveland’s staff in 1997, he was told by longtime Marriott Center maintenance personnel, “Just wait till January after football season, that’s when the crowds will show up.”

Nearly a quarter of a century later, BYU basketball is an event fans want to attend, even during a jam-packed football Saturday.

On Saturday night against an NAIA team in Central Methodist that probably very few BYU fans had ever heard of until tip-off, a total of 15,220 fans rolled into the 19,000-seat Marriott Center. All four sections of BYU’s student section, The ROC, were filled to the back row of the 50-year-old venue.

It goes to show that if you win, fans will show up regardless of the opponent.

#2 Alex Barcello has extended his range

After BYU defeated San Diego State last week, Mark Pope was asked if he was concerned about his team’s struggles from the three-point line. He quickly replied, “No, not at all.”

It’s easy not to have any worries when you have an efficient scorer in Alex Barcello.

Barcello, who has the look of an All-American guard through the first two weeks of the season, has been one of the nation’s top three-point shooters the past two years. What might be even scarier for BYU opponents is that Barcello has extended his range from beyond the arc this season.

Coming into the game, he had knocked down 61.5% of his three-point attempts in three games against teams who played in last year’s NCAA Tournament. He didn’t do anything to hurt those crazy numbers on Saturday night.

In the first half against CMU, Barcello knocked down a three close to the Marriott Center’s 50th-anniversary logo. Overall, he finished the night 4-of-7 from deep and 6-of-10 from the field, scoring 16 points in 19 minutes of play.

#3 Caleb Lohner comes to life on offense

Sophomore forward Caleb Lohner would be the first to tell you that everything in his basketball career has had a feeling out process. Through the first three games of the season, Lohner was shooting 35% from the field.

Lohner’s impact on a game can stretch beyond just simply scoring. The preseason All-WCC selection is a gifted rebounder. But if BYU wants to reach the lofty goals for this season, Lohner has to become more of a playmaker on the offensive end.

This season, the Dallas native who has taken on a more significant leadership role alongside Barcello scored 19 points and shot 80% from the field while still pulling down seven rebounds and dishing out two assists. It was his first double-digit scoring game this season.

CMU didn’t have the frontcourt to contend with the bigs BYU was bringing at them, but it could be a spark for Lohner heading into a big week that includes a rivalry tilt with Utah at the Huntsman Center.

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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