BYU Suffers Upset Loss At Last-Place Pepperdine

Feb 9, 2023, 11:14 PM
BYU Basketball, Mark Pope...
BYU basketball lost to Pepperdine 92-80 in Malibu. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU suffered a surprising loss to last-place Pepperdine on Thursday night. It was the first time in WCC play that the Waves secured a victory in regulation.

Last week, Pepperdine needed a miracle to pull out a double-overtime win over Portland. But, no heroics or improbable finishes were required at Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday. Instead, Pepperdine rolled through BYU, 92-80.

It was a devastating loss for a BYU team that was looking to be trending towards playing their best basketball in the WCC Tournament next month.

They’ll try to pick up the pieces on Saturday night when they face nationally-ranked Gonzaga in The Kennel.

Here’s a recap of how BYU’s loss to Pepperdine played out.

Track meet in the first half

BYU shot 55% from the field and was a pedestrian 33% from three. Then they got a healthy 11 points from Fousseyni Traore. The difference was the play of Pepperdine’s 6-foot-11 freshman Jevon Porter.

Porter was five points away from a career-high in the first half. He scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds.

The pace of the game looked like the type of BYU team Mark Pope envisioned his squad would be at the beginning of the season, and an up-tempo squad running and gunning. We saw that, but it sacrificed some of the success they’ve grown to expect on the defensive end.

BYU was up 34-25 with 6:06 remaining in the half, but then the Waves reeled off a 16-6 run to close out the half.

Pepperdine went into the half with a 41-40 lead, and one of their top players, Maxwell Lewis, didn’t score in the first 20 minutes.

Pepperdine pulled away in the second half

The Waves came out strong in the second half, jumping their meager one-point lead up to nine in the first minute of action. From there, BYU was never able to recapture a lead over Pepperdine.

BYU cut the deficit down to one point on four different occasions, but Pepperdine always had an answer.

Coming into the game, Mark Pope acknowledged that athletic, quick guards gave BYU issues. Those issues were magnified on Thursday night as Houston Mallette scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half.

BYU had no answer for him. Then in the post, Porter finished his career night with 30 points.

Gideon George did all that he could on the glass, grabbing seven rebounds. Guard Rudi Williams gave BYU a little bit of a lift on the offensive end in stretches, but nothing could be sustained.

After a week where BYU rolled through LMU by 28 points, suffering a 12-point loss to last place, Pepperdine was a surprising turn of events.

Credit to Pepperdine, the Waves have a young nucleus of talent they’ve identified through high school recruiting. As a result, they could potentially be a spoiler in the WCC Tournament. But it’s hard to imagine the Waves putting together another game where they shoot 57% from the field and 46% from three.

The WCC this year has shown that anyone can go down on any given nighUnfortunately, t. BYU learned the hard way as they fell to 16-11 overall and 6-6 in WCC play.

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 Mitch and his BYU basketball coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Suffers Upset Loss At Last-Place Pepperdine