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Matt Haarms, Gideon George lone bright spots in BYU’s blowout loss — if there were any bright spots

Haarms made his first start for BYU and scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, while George came off the bench and finished with a career-high 11 points and career-high six rebounds

SHARE Matt Haarms, Gideon George lone bright spots in BYU’s blowout loss — if there were any bright spots

BYU’s Matt Haarms blocks a shot attempt by Southern California’s Isaiah Mobley, right, during game, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Uncasville, Conn.

Jessica Hill, Associated Press

In BYU’s 79-53 lopsided loss to USC on Tuesday, 7-foot-3 senior Matt Haarms made his first career start for the Cougars and played well in the game’s opening minutes, eventually finishing with a team-high 11 points and six rebounds.

Meanwhile, Gideon George came off the bench and matched Haarms by scoring a career-high 11 points and a pulling down a career-high six rebounds. 

Other than that, there were few bright spots for the Cougars at Mohegan Sun Arena. 

Haarms was sidelined for the first two games of the season last week due to an ankle injury and he saw 12 minutes of action against Utah Valley University last Saturday. 

Against USC, Haarms made four of his first six shots, including a 3-pointer and a couple of dunks. He finished with three blocks. Haarms scored nine of BYU’s 20 first-half points and played a total of 24 minutes. 

As for George, he showed that he can compete at a high level against top-flight competition. The junior was 4 of 8 from the floor and 3 of 3 from the free-throw line during his 22 minutes on the court.

BYU coach Mark Pope, your thoughts on any positives after a 26-point loss? 

“I love Gideon. He showed some fight tonight. He’s really competing,” he said. “But I’m not sure there are any bright spots. There’s no bright spots. That doesn’t exist here. This is a team deal. When you take a shellacking like that  … it’s really awful. It’s on me. It’s 100% me. I’ve got to fix this. It came a little bit out of left field. It’s a real gut-punch and we have to fix it.”

It remains to be seen if George will take on a bigger role for the Cougars, but his performance was an encouraging sign.  

As for Haarms, Pope would like to see the Purdue grad transfer play a significant number of minutes every game. 

“I’d like him to be a 27-30 minute guy if he can,”  he said. “That would be ideal. It’s hard to do for a big to log that many minutes but I think he can do it.”

Pope is still trying to figure out how to optimize Haarms’ size and talents. 

“In terms of getting him the ball in the right spot, that’s going to be a learning process for us,” he said. “We’re going to be able to develop a lot of different parts of his game. It’s only his second showing. I do expect that there’s a high ceiling there. We’ve just got a lot of work to do.”