BYU Defense Among Observations In Cougar Win Over Saint Mary’s

Jan 8, 2022, 11:28 PM
Atiki Ally Atiki blocks a shot for BYU against St. Marys...
Atiki Ally Atiki blocks a shot for BYU against St. Marys (Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU basketball team notched a qualify WCC win over visiting Saint Mary’s 52-43.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Cougars excellent defense propelled them to victory.

The Gaels only made 17 field goals while shooting 29 percent.

Here are my observations from a night where the Marriott Center was buzzing with energy.

1. Atiki Ally Atiki defensive anchor

The Gaels jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and head coach Mark Pope made a substitution that changed the game.

Fousseyni Traore was subbed out for fellow freshman Atiki Ally Atiki.

BYU needed size down low to combat the physical presence of Matthias Tass, the Gaels leading scorer.

Tass was a mismatch for Traore who struggled to score down low in the first half.

In a perfect world, Traore wouldn’t play the center position, but injuries have forced him into that role.

It’s a great sign for the Cougars to see Atiki play well against one of the best teams in the WCC.

He’ll be needed when they play Gonzaga.

2. Alex Barcello willing rebounder

The Cougars were primed to be a really good rebounding team until early injures to Richard Harward and Gavin Baxter changed everything.

Several players are playing new positions and it’s taking time to adjust.

Although outsized, the Cougars were only out-rebounded by six.

Barcello is known for his offense, but he’s become one the better rebounding guards on the team.

Contributions on the glass will need to be a collective effort like it was tonight if this team wants to make a tournament run.

3. BYU guards sharing the scoring load

27 of the Cougars 52 points came from their starting guards in a game where points came at a premium.

Barcello only scored eight points, he received help from Te’Jon Lucas with 10 points and nine points from Trevin Knell.

Lucas and Knell made clutch baskets late to hold off a late push from St. Marys.

Consistent scoring from the starting guards will be key for BYU going forward in WCC play.

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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