Gideon George’s Career Night On Glass Lifts No. 18 BYU Over Texas Southern
PROVO, Utah – BYU/Texas Southern was a tough, physical ball game but the Cougars found a way to pull away in the second half for an 81-64 victory.
BYU entered the contest at No. 18 in the AP Top 25, marking the first time a BYU team was ranked in November since Jimmer Fredette’s senior year in 2010-11.
The Cougars shot 39% from the field, 25% from three, and 63% from the free-throw line in the win.
Senior forward Gideon George was the player of the night for BYU recording a double-double 10 points and 16 rebounds. George’s 16 boards were a career-high for the former New Mexico JC transfer. Guard Te’Jon Lucas ended up with a team-high 18 points for BYU.
BYU now improves to 5-0 for the first time since that previously mentioned 2011 team.
Here’s a recap from the Cougars 81-64 win over the Tigers.
Texas Southern made BYU work in the 1st half
The big stage did not faze Battle-tested Texas Southern at BYU. The Tigers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, confirming Mark Pope’s worries that TSU can compete with high-major teams.
BYU’s first points came off a tough basket at the rim by Gavin Baxter more than three minutes into the game (16:56). At the first media timeout, BYU trailed 4-3. The shooting was a problem for BYU in the early going as they hit only 13% of their shots. Even Alex Barcello missed an open mid-range shot.
Fousseyni Traore made his first appearance of the night after the media timeout. The 6-foot-7 freshman missed the win over Central Methodist due to an injury suffered against Oregon. Immediately off the bench, Traore provided a spark knocking down two buckets, a midrange “quickie,” and a slam dunk off an Alex Barcello miss. Shortly after that stretch, Mark Pope gave Traore a break as he was on a minutes restriction.
After opening the game down 4-0, BYU reeled off a 16-3 run despite missing all six of their three-point attempts.
Guard Te’Jon Lucas was making BYU’s offense run in the early going. The former Milwaukee transfer found an open Gavin Baxter on a fast break that led to a slam dunk by the big man. Coming into the season, Lucas’ teammates called him BYU’s version of Magic Johnson for his playmaking ability as a passer.
Barcello hit his first points at the 7:30 mark to put BYU up 25-14. However, the fifth-year senior did miss his first two field goal attempts, a rare sight as he was near perfect in the first four games from the field this season.
Texas Southern then went on a 6-1 run that included a bucket off an offensive rebound. The Tigers entered the game as one of the nation’s top offensive rebounding teams.
Then momentum swung back in BYU’s favor after Trevin Knell down the Cougars first made three of the night. After BYU’s made three, Texas Southern head coach Johnny Jones exchanged some words with the game officials. The refs immediately blew the whistle and called a technical foul.
Alex Barcello went to the foul line to attempt the free throws, and Barcello, who entered the game having made 38 consecutive free throws, missed his first attempt of the night. That miss ended his streak of consecutive made free throws, leaving him one shy of tying Jimmer Fredette for second-most made free throws in a row.
BYU forward Gideon George provided a lift pulling down 11 rebounds in the first 20 minutes to combat Texas Southern’s physicality on the glass. After that, the former JUCO transfer was flying around everywhere on the floor and even hit a big three with 1:37 remaining in the first half to put BYU’s lead back to double-digits.
Along with George, two other BYU players knocked down threes in the final 2:48 of action. First, it was Spencer Johnson; George hit his three shortly after, then Alex Barcello got in on the act off a Te’Jon Lucas’ fifth assist of the half.
BYU went into the halftime locker room leading 43-30 after only shooting 44% from the field, 24% from three, and a surprising 50% (7-14) from the free throw line.
Gideon George, Te’Jon Lucas lift BYU to victory
Through the first eight minutes of the second half, Texas Southern was going blow for blow with BYU. The hot shooting from three for BYU didn’t carry over in the early part of the second half as the Cougars missed their first five attempts from deep, until Fousseyni Traore ended the drought at the 10:46 mark with a trey. The first three-point make of his BYU career.
TSU guard P.J. Henry was leading the way for the Tigers, the former Hartford transfer answered Traore’s three on the other end of the floor at the midway mark of the half.
Gideon George reached a double-double before the first media timeout and center Gavin Baxter continues to improve with each game that passes. The former Top-100 recruit reached double-figures in scoring for the second consecutive time. It’s the first back-to-back performance of at least 10 points from Baxter in his BYU career.
Lucas jumped into double-figures in scoring off an and-one opportunity layup. He later hit his first three of the night at the 9:51 mark giving him a new season-high at BYU of 14 points.
BYU built their lead up to 19 points and appeared to be pulling away from the Tigers, but TSU fought back to cut the deficit to 11 points. They had a possession with a wide-open three-point attempt by John Jones that would have cut it to single digits, he missed that attempt. That miss proved costly as BYU on the other end had an Alex Barcello missed three, but Gideon George came away with his 15th rebound of the night and he found Spencer Johnson to knock down a three.
George pulled down a career-high 16th rebound in the game, passing his previous high of 15 board against St. John’s. After reaching the career-high mark, George left the court to be attended to by trainer Rob Ramos. George appeared to have a muscle massager being applied to him on the bench, he didn’t return in the ball game.
BYU pulled away from there and it was capped off by a three-pointer from Alex Barcello as the shot clock was about to expire, giving BYU the 81-64 win over the Tigers.
Next up for 5-0 BYU is a road game against rival Utah at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. The Utes are 5-0 and ranked No. 68 in the Ken Pomeroy ratings. Tip-off for BYU versus Utah is at 7:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Network Mountain.
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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