Provo • When BYU basketball coach Mark Pope walked out of his office two nights ago, with the clock creeping past 9:30, he peaked his head into the weight room to find Dallin Hall.
His point guard had been hobbled by injury — limited to 15 minutes in the season-opener — but was trying to sneak in an extra workout to be ready for San Diego State. Pope took a mental note of it at the time, thinking maybe he could get a few more minutes out of him.
“If you were asking me before the game if I was going to get 25 minutes out of him ... that might be a stretch,” Pope said.
Somehow, though, that is exactly what Hall gave BYU. And the Cougars needed every minute of it in a 74-65 upset of No. 17 San Diego State. Hall orchestrated all of it offensively, pouring in 18 points (16 in the final 15 minutes). He hit the dagger with two minutes left, a step-back three that put BYU up nine.
“It felt good out there,” Hall said, insisting he wasn’t tired.
But Pope said that was less than true. As Hall played the final 15 minutes of the night, there were conversations about whether to call a timeout to give him a breather. More than once, coaches went over to him to see if he was OK.
Hall kept saying he was, and BYU couldn’t take him out.
Every time San Diego State made a run, Hall had the answer. When SDSU erased a five-point deficit early in the second half, it was Hall who stepped into a three to give BYU the lead and calm the waters.
Halfway through the second half, when SDSU again threatened to take control, Hall hit back-to-back three to give the Cougars a 54-50 advantage.
And it was Hall’s final flurry where he scored eight points in the final four minutes that allowed BYU’s lead to grow from three to nine. It was capped off by the step back on the wing over one of SDSU’s veteran defenders, Lamont Butler.
“Coach wants me to take that shot,” Hall said. “We’ve been working all offseason on shots off the bounce. It was a big emphasis for us. Trusted me to take it, just have the confidence to do it.”
Outside of Hall, BYU spent the majority of the game trying to figure out SDSU’s length with varying levels of success. The same defense that took the Aztecs to the national title game a year ago wasn’t the same. SDSU brought only nine scholarship players with it to Provo.
But it still gave BYU fits. The guard combination of Lamont Butler, Elijah Saunders and Reese Waters turned BYU over seven times.
Inside, 6-foot-9 Jaedon LeDee bullied his way into 21 points. BYU’s Fousseyni Traore did his best to match him. And it worked in spurts as BYU out-rebounded SDSU by 10. It was a far cry from back in 2019 when BYU narrowly lost to SDSU 76-71 and BYU “couldn’t get a rebound” by Pope’s estimation.
Still, BYU’s offense wasn’t humming along.
SDSU limited the three-point happy offense to 27 threes (eight off of Pope’s 35 pace). And the majority of the work had to be done in transition, scoring 17 points on fast breaks to SDSU’s eight.
“They are such elite level on ball defenders,” Pope said. “It is hard you know. This is one of the only teams you face where the guards handle every ball screen. They are just elite level defenders. Their gaps are so tough and their rakes are hard. When we could get something going in transition, we did it.”
When BYU was in a bind, though, it turned to Hall.
And as the final buzzer sounded, Hall went over to Trey Stewart in a hug. He almost fell into him, leaning on tired legs.
He thought back to something Dwyane Wade said when he visited the team two weeks ago.
“Celebrate moments,” Hall finished. “We are going to celebrate this as a team tonight. ... This was a big win.”