PROVO — BYU’s run of ill form on the Hilltop continued Saturday afternoon.
Khalil Shabazz poured in a career-high 32 points on a perfect 10-of-10 shooting, and Jamaree Bouyea added 23 points as San Francisco overturned a 14-point second-half deficit with a 32-5 run. It resulted in San Francisco handing BYU its third straight loss in the series, 83-82 at War Memorial Gym.
The Dons (15-7, 4-3 WCC) made 13 3-pointers, including a perfect 6-of-6 effort from Shabazz. That's a season-high for a BYU opponent.
"We let him get going too early. We knew he’s a shooter, we knew the assignment," BYU forward Kolby Lee told BYU Radio. "Obviously, we should’ve done something different.
"He didn’t miss a shot."
Yoeli Childs had 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to lead BYU, and Jake Toolson added 17 points and three assists for the Cougars (15-7, 4-3 WCC).
TJ Haws supplied 20 points and four assists in the 123rd straight start of his BYU career, a program record, while Alex Barcello scored 14 for the Cougars.
Scoring wasn’t the problem. Shooting wasn’t the problem for BYU — they shot 51% from the field and 55% from 3-point range. Defense: maybe a bit of the problem.
But first-year BYU head coach Mark Pope put the blame squarely on his 6-foot-10 shoulders.
"These guys deserve a better coach than they had tonight," Pope told BYU Radio. "I’ve got to get a lot better. I allowed them to keep us in isolation for the last 16 minutes of the half, and that’s really embarrassing. That’s on me."
The Cougars pulled within four, 79-75, on Childs’ jumper with 90 seconds to go and Haws turned a steal-and-two in transition to get to 79-77 on the next play. But the visitors could get no closer until Haws connected on a pair of free throws in the final seconds, which precluded Toolson’s buzzer-beating three to finish off the one-point loss.
The Cougars opened the second half on a 9-2 run, capped by Toolson’s triple for a 54-40 lead. But USF responded with a 16-0 run to take a brief lead on Bouyea’s drive with just under 11 minutes to play.
The run stretched to 32-5 over nine minutes, including Jordan Ratinho’s three to push the Dons to a 72-59 lead with 6:02 remaining.
San Francisco shot 55% from the field, including 13-of-25 from 3-point range.
"Obviously, it starts defensively," Lee said. "We could score the ball whenever we wanted to. But it starts with stops."
For the second-straight game against the Dons, BYU led by 14 in the second half — and lost, a similar storyline to last year’s 77-72 defeat in Provo.
"You can’t get complacent," Lee said. "It’s frustrating, because you have a lead and you have an advantage. But if you get complacent, even a little bit — we just have to be better defensively."
The Dons, whose 15-7 start under first-year head coach Todd Golden is the third-best in program history, are the second-lowest rated team to beat BYU, 11 spots ahead of No. 111 in the NET. Saint Mary’s (40) and Utah (77) are the only other losses outside the NET’s current top 10.
The Cougars have lost three of their last four on the road — though those losses have come to Gonzaga, Saint Mary's and (now) USF). A merciful stretch of three of the next four games in the Marriott Center awaits, including Saint Mary's trip to Provo at 8 p.m. MST next Saturday, Feb. 1.
"We’re not done," Lee said. "This one hurts right now because everyone hates to lose, but conference (play) is only halfway through. We have a lot more games to play, then the tournament, and if we do well in that, then another tournament after that.
"But this one will sting a bit."