Facebook Twitter

How rebounding has propelled No. 18 BYU to a 6-0 start

The Cougars have out-rebounded every opponent this season and those opponents include some very good rebounding teams.

SHARE How rebounding has propelled No. 18 BYU to a 6-0 start
BYU forwards Caleb Lohner (33) and Gideon George (5) battle for a rebound against the Utes in Salt Lake City, Nov. 27, 2021.

Brigham Young Cougars forward Caleb Lohner (33) and Brigham Young Cougars forward Gideon George (5) try to grab a rebound in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

With its November games in the books, No. 18 BYU owns a 6-0 record — its best start since 2010-11, National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette’s senior season — including two victories over Pac-12 opponents.

One of those wins came Saturday night at the Huntsman Center, where the Cougars dispatched Utah 75-64 in front of a crowd that included a strong contingent of BYU fans.  

The Cougars pulled away in the second half thanks in part to shooting 56% over the final 20 minutes and a decisive 18-6 run midway through the half.

This week, the Cougars have two more road games, Wednesday night at Utah Valley University — coach Mark Pope’s former employer — and Saturday afternoon at Missouri State. 

Against the Utes, guard Te’Jon Lucas scored a game-high 18 points (on 8 of 10 shooting from the field), matching the 18 that he scored last Wednesday against Texas Southern.

Alex Barcello added 17 points, including 11 of 12 from the free throw line, along with five assists and four rebounds.

Gavin Baxter had 14 points, two rebounds and two blocked shots and forward Caleb Lohner notched a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Fousseyni Traore grabbed seven rebounds.

Lohner pulled down five offensive rebounds and helped BYU out-rebound Utah by a margin of 45-28.

The Cougars also outscored the Utes in second-chance points (17-7) and outscored them in the paint (48-28). 

When it comes to rebounding, BYU is all in.

The Cougars have out-rebounded every opponent this season, and those foes include some very good rebounding teams — Cleveland State (41-31 rebounding margin), San Diego State (42-38), Oregon (34-26), Central Methodist (37-22) Texas Southern (52-38) and Utah (45-28). 

How does Pope assess his team six games into the season? 

“I was hoping that we’d be a great team on the glass. I was hoping last year’s team would be a dominant team on the glass. We were really good. This team has a chance to be great. I’m really pleased with that,” he said.

“I’m really pleased with our defensive effort. We were a little scattered in the first half (against Utah) but we did better in the second half. Offensively, we can get way better. It’s crazy because we’re so effective on the offensive glass and because we’re not turning the ball over, we’re still a top-25 offensive team when it feels like we’re not playing beautiful basketball like we have traditionally, so we’ll get there. The ceiling’s really high for this group.”

Against the Utes, BYU made just 2 of 12 3-point attempts. For the season, the Cougars are 39 of 127 from 3-point range, just 30.7%. 

But Pope said he’s not concerned about his team’s 3-point shooting.  

“It’s going to come. I’m not worried about it. These guys are going to shoot it better and better and better,” he said.

“In the meantime, if they keep doing their job on the glass like they are, it’s pretty special. We’ve got to get better, but in the first six games, we’ve rebounded really well.”