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‘It’s fun to win’: BYU’s Mark Pope commemorates 50th game with double OT victory, avoids back-to-back losses — again

BYU coach Mark Pope claps on the sideline of a game against the Pacific Tigers at the Marriott Center in Provo.
Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope works the sideline during the game against the Pacific Tigers at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

PROVO — Mark Pope’s 50th game as BYU’s head coach was a memorable one for many reasons.

In case you were wondering, the Cougars’ thrilling 95-87 double-overtime win over Pacific Saturday at the Marriott Center wasn’t elaborately orchestrated to commemorate the milestone moment.

“I’m always just trying to find a way for it to not be my last game as coach,” Pope joked. “If I can get through it and not have it be my last game, I’m super proud of that.”

Not only was it BYU’s first overtime game at home under Pope, but the Cougars were pressed into double OT before grinding out a hardscrabble win against a scrappy bunch of Tigers.

Seniors Alex Barcello, Brandon Averette and Matt Haarms combined to score 60 points. They each made huge plays down the stretch to lead BYU to victory.

And the Cougars were able to avoid its first losing streak with Pope as the head coach. They have never lost back-to-back games since he became the head coach in April of 2019.

Pope has amassed a 38-12 overall record for the Cougars.

“The game was so incredibly awesome because we won. I’m so happy about that. Fifty games — we’ve been together for a long time,” Pope said. “It seems like a lot longer than a year-and-a-half, doesn’t it? Fifty in the books, guys. It’s fun to win.”