BYU’s Caleb Lohner Responded While Gonzaga Fans Zeroed In On Him

Jan 14, 2022, 12:38 AM | Updated: 4:10 pm
Caleb Lohner - BYU Basketball...
SPOKANE, WA - JANUARY 13: Chet Holmgren #34 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs contests the shot of Caleb Lohner (33) of the Brigham Young Cougars during the first half of the game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Brigham Young Cougars at the McCarthey Athletic Center on January 13, 2022 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Robert Johnson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robert Johnson/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball forward Caleb Lohner was the target of Gonzaga fans during the 110-84 loss in Spokane.

Earlier in the week, a tweet was sent by another media outlet sharing a quote from Lohner that read, “everyone hates Gonzaga, so it’ll be a lot of fun to play them.” After Thursday night’s loss, Lohner said in the radio postgame (on KSL NewsRadio) that he felt the tweet took the post-practice quote out of context.

His full quote on Tuesday was, “So I think this will be a big game. Just to kind of get everyone’s confidence to go and play a tough number two team in the country and kind of give it all you got. And benchmark yourself to see where you are. I think it’s going to be really fun for us, the team, and as a program. Everyone hates Gonzaga, so it’s fun to go play them.”

Either way, Lohner received endless boos from the Gonzaga faithful in The Kennel whenever he touched the ball. When he was sitting on the bench, the Gonzaga student section chanted, “We want Caleb!”

Maybe that’s what Lohner, a preseason All-WCC selection, needed to rediscover his high level of play.

Coming into the game, he said he wanted to assert himself more on both ends of the floor. In the previous four games, Lohner was 3-of-15 from the field. So he did just that, scoring a season-high against a D-1 opponent, 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, and 2-of-3 from the three-point line.

Caleb Lohner embraced the boos from Gonzaga fans

“As weird it sounds, I think I liked everyone screaming,” said Caleb Lohner when asked if he fed off the Gonzaga fans’ chants towards him. “Whether it was negative or positive, I don’t know. I enjoyed it. But we just have to get better. We can’t let a team score that many points and expect to beat a high-caliber team like Gonzaga.”

Was he expecting the endless boos?

“No, not that much; no, I did not. But I enjoyed it,” said Lohner. “There’s a reoccurring theme; I’m somehow the hated person every away game we go to. Which is fun, I’ll take it. But, I respect every team we play coming in here.”

There’s a history of BYU getting the doors blown off them at The Kennel but then bouncing back in Provo in the Mark Pope era. In 2020, pre-COVID, BYU lost to the Zags by 23 in Spokane, then five weeks later, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in program history, taking down Gonzaga on the Marriott Center floor.

BYU, Lohner need to improve to have a better chance at taking down the Zags in Provo

If BYU has any hopes of a similar outcome this season, they need Lohner to be the do-it-all player he was known to be coming out of Wasatch Academy. But it can’t just be one guy. The entire BYU team has to perform a lot better to take down one of the nation’s best teams.

“We came in here knowing it would be a fight,” Lohner said to the BYU Sports Network on KSL NewsRadio. “This team is one of, if not the, best team in the country. We just got our ass kicked; I don’t think there’s any way around it.”

On a night where Gonzaga’s elite offensive performance shooting 69% from the field dimmed any bright spots from BYU, Caleb Lohner gave the flashes of how talented he can be when playing with confidence. Or maybe, playing with fans screaming at him for an entire night.

Lohner and the 14-4 BYU Cougars are next in action on Saturday night when they take on the San Francisco Dons on the Hilltop in a game that will feature two projected NCAA Tournament teams.

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.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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