PROVO, Utah — While BYU averted disaster by beating Pacific 95-87 in double overtime Saturday at the Marriott Center, there are issues that the Cougars need to fix, or else they may face similar tenuous situations in the final month of the regular season.
This week, BYU heads back out on the road with games at San Diego (Tuesday) and Portland (Thursday).
For stretches during the first half against Pacific, BYU’s stagnant offense was an eyesore. On two separate occasions, the Cougars went about five minutes without scoring.
They made just 18 of 28 free throws, including misses late in the game that could have cost them. They also gave up 14 turnovers.
During the second half, there were times when BYU couldn’t stop the Tigers from scoring.
But ultimately, the Cougars (14-4, 5-2) made the offensive and defensive plays they needed in order pull out a dramatic victory.
“The perfect way to explain that game is a roller-coaster ride … That’s the game of basketball,” said guard Brandon Averette, who scored a game-high 24 points, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. “You have ups and downs but it’s all about how you respond. We responded great as a team. Those are the games you remember and they’re my favorite type of games to play in.”
Guard Alex Barcello finished with 23 points and collected a career-high nine rebounds and added seven assists. He scored 21 of his points after halftime.
“I was proud of our group as a whole,” Barcello said. “We handled the game well and what it brought to us — physicality and down the stretch.”
Saturday marked coach Mark Pope’s first overtime game at home and his first OT win as BYU’s coach. The Cougars posted an 0-3 record last season in overtime games.
Knowing that a home loss to Pacific could have severely damaged BYU’s NCAA Tournament resume, Barcello understands what the victory means.
“Every win means a lot to us,” Barcello said. “We had a sense of urgency coming into this game. In the second half, and as the overtimes progressed, you could see our guys were still there, ready to fight and hungry. Our coaches instill that into us every day. Being present in the moment is our main focus.”