SAN DIEGO (ABC4 Sports) – The BYU basketball team pulled off its most impressive win of the season Friday afternoon.
Alex Barcello scored 22 points and Brandon Averette hit a huge 3-pointer with 51 seconds left for BYU, which blew a 17-point lead before beating No. 18 San Diego State 72-62 on Friday despite Matt Mitchell’s career-high 35 points.
Mitchell was remarkable in scoring 26 points in the second half. He spurred a 14-0 run, as the Aztecs erased a 17-point deficit, with three 3-pointers and then had a steal and dunk that tied it 61.
But BYU (7-2) regained control, and outscored the Aztecs the rest of the way 11-1, to hand San Diego State (5-1) its first loss of the season. The Aztecs won their first 26 games last season and were the nation’s last undefeated team en route to a 30-2 record.
“This [San Diego State] team is really good,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “I was having these nightmares of us having zero points for the first 19 minutes of the game, and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve let one team score over 60 points all season long, and they played a really tough schedule also. I do think there’s a very legitimate chance they don’t lose another game this season until the postseason. They’re that good. So to come in here and get out with the win is just a tribute to our guys and how tough they are.”
After Matt Haarms made a baseline jumper for a 63-61 BYU lead, Mitchell made one of two free throws. Averette then hit a 3 from straight on to put BYU up 66-62 with 51 seconds left.
Barcello made four free throws in the last 35 seconds, sandwiched around a missed 3 by Mitchell, and Connor Harding made two free throws for the Cougars, who had a 40-26 rebounding edge.
Haarms and Averette scored 10 points apiece.
Jordan Schakel had only three points on 1-of-9 shooting after scoring a career-high 25 points in an 80-68 win at Arizona State on Dec. 10.
BYU’s biggest lead was 35-18 late in the first half before Mitchell made two free throws to make it 35-20 at halftime. SDSU shot just 25 percent and had eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Schakel had no points and missed his only two shots.
BYU: The Cougars used an impressive half-court offense in staying ahead of the Aztecs in the second half. Late in the first half, they got consecutive 3-pointers from Spencer Johnson and Barcello. The Cougars lead the series 49-25.
San Diego State: The Aztecs couldn’t handle BYU’s size early. They shot only 25% and had eight turnovers in the first half.
The Aztecs shot 37% from the field and 36% from the free in the game. Mitchell kept SDSU in it with 35 points on 12-17 shooting, but no other Aztec scored more than eight points.
BYU outrebounded SDSU by 14, scored 11 more bench points and 10 more points in the paint than the Aztecs. The Cougars shot 46% from the field and 30% from deep. Spencer Johnson and Trevin Knell each scored eight points. Kolby Lee finished with four points and five rebounds. Connor Harding also scored four points and grabbed four boards.
BYU next hosts Texas Southern on Monday night.