INDIANAPOLIS (ABC4 Sports) – BYU picked the wrong time to have one of its worst outside shooting performances of the season.
The Cougars made just three of 17 shots from three-point range, as the Cougars season comes to an end with a 73-62 loss to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.
BYU was making its first appearance in the Big Dance since 2015, and never led in the game.
Johnny Juzang scored 27 points on ten of 16 shots from the field, while Jules Bernard added 16, as the 11-seeded Bruins move on to the Round of 32 against Abilene Christian, which upset Texas.
BYU’s season ends with a record of 20-7.
“The game teaches you all the time how you need to get better,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “There’s a number of things we can take from this game to get better. But I’m not there right now. It’s a hard locker room right now.”
Alex Barcello scored 20 points to lead the Cougars, while Brandon Averette added 15.
Juzang, who came into the game averaging 14.5 points, scored 19 of his 27 points in the first half, as the Bruins built an 11-point lead at 38-27.
After the Bruins built the lead to 14 early in the second half, the Cougars went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 43-39.
But UCLA opened the lead back up again behind Bernard, Jaime Jaquez and David Singleton, as BYU got no closer than seven points the rest of the game.
Barcello and Averette were a combined 15 of 29 from the field, but the rest of the Cougars made just ten baskets. Matt Haarms scored 11 points and pulled down ten rebounds. Caleb Lohner also had ten rebounds to go along with six points.
BYU committed 10 turnovers, including seven in the first half, while only forcing four turnovers on the defensive end. UCLA scored 11 points off those 10 turnovers and added a 13-7 second chance points advantage over the Cougars. BYU finished the game with a season-low five assists on 25 made baskets. The Cougars never led, trailing for 39 of the 40 minutes.
“Clearly we didn’t shoot the ball well from the three point line or the free throw line,” Pope said. “Credit UCLA for that, putting pressure on us they had us on our heels. It happens sometimes. We’ve been able to overcome nights like that before, this season. There’s going to be nights on occasion where you don’t shoot the ball well . We had answers we can still win games we just didn’t get it done tonight. I’m super proud of my guys. They’re really special young men and a really special locker room.”
This is the first time in Mark Pope’s two years at BYU that the Cougars have lost back-to-back games. The Cougars lost to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game 11 days ago.