For a few minutes, the BYU men’s basketball team on Saturday against Pepperdine looked as it did to start Thursday’s game against Loyola Marymount University — subpar defense, early fouls, a slow start on offense.
Then senior guard Alex Barcello started shooting. And making. And making. And making.
Barcello never really stopped making, en route to a career-high 33 points that helped the Cougars win 91-85 over the Pepperdine Waves on the road. He made nine 3-pointers and attempted 10. He shot 10 of 12 for the night and added one assist, one rebound and one steal.
Coach Mark Pope was incredulous at Barcello’s stat line during his postgame interview on BYU Radio.
“I’ve never seen 33 in 12 shots in my lifetime,” Pope said. “I’ve never seen it. It’s just crazy. With only four free throws? I’ve never seen it. That is just — we just watched history.”
It was Barcello’s first 30-point game of his career at BYU. He also put his name in the record books among some of the best guards in the school’s history that made at least nine 3-pointers in a game. Barcello is now tied with Jimmer Fredette and Chase Fischer for second all-time with nine in one game.
Fischer holds the record with 10 3-pointers in a game against Chaminade on Nov. 25, 2014.
Barcello said on BYU Radio that he had heard that 10 was the all-time BYU record and remembered that when he was told he had made nine. But he did not want to force the issue just to reach that record.
“That’s not the way I play,” Barcello said. “All I care about is winning.”
Barcello didn’t take as many shots in the second half because Pepperdine adjusted its defense. So he became a facilitator and allowed his teammates to make plays. And they did.
Caleb Lohner had arguably his best game of the season. He scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and had four rebounds and two assists.
Te’Jon Lucas, who struggled with foul trouble, added 10 points and seven assists, making some timely shots down the stretch. All his points came in the second half.
The Cougars and Waves both shot at a highly efficient clip, and BYU needed every single one of Barcello’s points. Pepperdine, a team that entered Saturday No. 287 in the NCAA NET rankings and just 1-10 in the West Coast Conference, gave the visitors all they can handle.
But BYU did just enough keep Pepperdine at bay and continue its turnaround from the recent four-game losing streak. Barcello said it felt like “the world was ending” during that stretch, but he added that with the last two wins, the team is starting to regain its confidence.
Note: The Cougars used a different starting lineup for the fifth game in the row due to what Pope called a “lower body” injury to Fousseyni Traore. Pope intimated that the injury is confounding, saying it may take “days, weeks, months” to heal. “It’s one of those weird things,” he said. “We’re going to be hoping and praying that it gets better sooner than later.”