Brigham Younger Cougars guard Alex Barcello (13) goes to the ring forward of Pepperdine Waves guard Mike Mitchell Jr. (1) in the course of the recreation on the Marriott Middle in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret Information)
Estimated learn time: 4-5 minutes
PROVO — Halfway via the second half of BYU basketball’s residence finale towards Pepperdine, Alex Barcello stepped via a depraved crossover dribble, stepped again, drained a 3-pointer and tapped his wrist.
Fousseyni Traore bought the message.
Traore poured in 25 factors, 19 rebounds and three assists en path to the seventh double-double of his profession and BYU basketball wrapped up the common season with a 75-59 win over Pepperdine in entrance of a near-sellout crowd Saturday evening within the Marriott Middle.
Barcello added 10 factors, eight rebounds and three assists, and Te’Jon Lucas had 15 factors and 4 assists on senior evening for the Cougars (21-9, 9-6 WCC), who additionally honored injured massive males Gavin Baxter and Richard Harward earlier than tipoff.
However on one explicit play, Traore — like every good freshman would to a senior chief — was simply following orders.
“I used to be so hyped,” he mentioned with amusing. “He (Barcello) simply wanted to relax somewhat bit, proper?”
That is when head coach Mark Pope jumped in, with a joke which may as properly have been fully correct.
“When AB did that,” Pope mentioned, tapping his wrist, “Fouss turned to AB, and mentioned, ‘if you wish to put this factor away, get me the ball. Each. Single. Time.'”
BYU 59 – PEP 46 | 7:27 2H
— BYU Males’s Basketball (@BYUMBB) February 27, 2022
Level taken for the 6-foot-6, 254-pound freshman from Bamako, Mali, the previous Wasatch Academy standout whose freshman yr has seen a gradual rise since he turned the highest put up participant on a workforce lacking its two prime bigs in Baxter and Harward. However when Traore goes off, good issues occur for BYU, which improved to 6-1 on the yr when he information a double-double.
Traore has scored in double figures in three of the previous 4 video games, paralleling an increase that has seen BYU proper itself after a four-game skid that propelled the Cougars to the sting of the NCAA Event bubble.
With 4 wins within the final 5 video games — the one loss, a 69-64 setback at Saint Mary’s, when Traore struggled to 4 factors and 5 rebounds whereas taking part in via a groin harm — the Cougars have (seemingly, probably, possibly) righted the ship.
“25 and 19? That’s absurd,” mentioned Lucas, who celebrated his second senior evening however first with followers and a crowd that included his mom, sister and grandmother in attendance. “And for a freshman to get that, 9-of-10 capturing. Seven-of-nine free throws. That’s absurd.”
Gideon George provided 11 factors in BYU’s regular-season finale, and Trevin Knell had 8 factors and 4 assists for the Cougars.
Houston Mallette scored 23 factors to steer Pepperdine (7-24, 1-15 WCC) and fellow freshman Mike Mitchell Jr. provided 18 factors, eight rebounds and 4 assists for the shorthanded Waves, who solely performed seven gamers.
However on Barcello’s second celebrated senior evening in a BYU uniform, the Chandler, Arizona, product wished to finish the common season in model.
Knell capped a 7-0 run over simply 57 seconds that pushed BYU to a 20-13 lead halfway via the primary half. However the Waves shot 48% from the sphere to BYU’s 45% to creep inside three, 36-33 at halftime.
The Cougars outrebounded Pepperdine 21-15 and scored 8 factors off 5 turnovers earlier than the break however could not draw back from a bunch of Waves guards that bought something they wished — together with 13 factors from Mitchell.
It did not take lengthy for Barcello to take over, although. The Arizona switch discovered Atiki Ally Atiki for a hammer dunk halfway via the second half. On the subsequent possession, Barcello completed off his crossover with a stepback 3-pointer that pushed the Cougars’ result in 49-40, highlighting an 11-3 spurt that pushed the Cougars’ lead as excessive as 55-43 with 7:27 remaining to assist seal the win for good.
— BYU Males’s Basketball (@BYUMBB) February 27, 2022
“That stepback, that is Alex; that is what he does,” Lucas mentioned. “I simply wished to go over there and have enjoyable with him, however that is OK. We talked about it within the locker room later, how he was wobbling or one thing.
“However that is Alex Barcello; I do not count on nothing much less.”
Moments later, Lucas discovered Caleb Lohner for a transition dunk that introduced the home down and gave the Cougars a 61-46 lead they’d by no means relinquish, holding the Waves to 27% capturing within the second half.
However again to Traore, who set a BYU freshman document with 19 rebounds — together with 14 defensive boards. The West Africa product tied Mark Helpful for the second-most double-doubles in a freshman season in BYU historical past, and in addition knocked down his thirty fifth block of the season — the fourth-most all-time by a BYU freshman.
“I have been saying all yr: he does not understand how good he’s,” Barcello mentioned. “This college, the coaches are fortunate to have a man like Fouss, who’s so keen to be taught and has a lot uncooked expertise. However while you put that collectively along with his laborious work, work ethic, and also you see him within the fitness center at 8 o’ clock day by day, then to the research corridor for 5 hours a day. It is superior.”
The win, mixed with wins by San Francisco and Santa Clara, locks BYU into the No. 5 seed within the West Coast Convention Event — the Cougars’ highest seed since becoming a member of the league in 2011. The Cougars will open the tourney subsequent Friday, March 4 on the Orleans Area in Las Vegas.