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OGDEN — As the saying goes: When it rains, it pours; and nothing could be more true for the BYU Cougars Saturday night at the Dee Events Center against Weber State.
Te'Jon Lucas and Trevin Knell both hit 3-point shots to start the game, and the two buckets gave an early glimpse to how the game would go for BYU as they drained 16 shots from behind the arc to pull away in the second half for a 89-71 victory over the Wildcats.
"It makes the game a little bit easier, doesn't it?" BYU head coach Mark Pope said after his team saw success from 3-point range. "Especially with us being a little bit smaller now, it's probably not in our wheelhouse to quite be as dominant on the glass, so it's helpful to make some shots."
It wasn't just the made shots Pope was impressed with after the game, but rather his team's ability to create for each other and find the best open look in a possession, which led to 19 assists in the game for the Cougars.
In the first half alone, Lucas and Seneca Knight each nailed two 3-pointer, and Knell added three 3-pointers of his own to lead the hot-shooting Cougars with nine total 3s in the half en route to an 8-point lead at the break.
Weber State's Dillon Jones, who finished the game with 20 points and 11 rebounds, came out of the break determined to chip away at the Cougars' lead by opening the half with back-to-back 3-pointers of his own and a driving pullup for 8 points in less than three minutes.
After a pass from Atiki Ally Atiki, who was looking to find Caleb Lohner in the post, ricocheted off the backboard, Weber State got out in transition and found Koby McEwen for a layup and a foul to tie up the game 44-44.
But Alex Barcello had seen enough and took over the game by hitting three 3-pointers to open the second half. Barcello was held to just 5 points on five shot attempts in the first half but finished with a game-high 23 points, which included five 3-pointers.
"Every team we play, the entire scout, 89% of the stuff they do is just about how are we gonna control this Alex Barcello?" Pope said. "He's just veteran enough and forceful enough and savvy enough, and his team is actually functioning well enough right now that he just finds really hard way to get baskets."
"I thought we gave ourselves a chance," Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said. "Biggest thing was we did a great job with Barcello in the first half, kind of followed the game plan. And then it got away from us in the second half, and he's too good a player to get away from us and he did. He got free and he started making shots, and that was the difference in the game."
After McEwen's layup and free throw that tied the game, the Cougars went on a 13-3 run that included two 3-pointers from Barcello, a 3-pointer from Spencer Johnson and fastbreak dunks from Fousseyni Traore and Gideon George.
With the help of Barcello's hot shooting and Johnson's three 3-pointers in the second half, the Cougars never looked back as they got their largest lead of the game of 22 points with just under three minutes remaining.
BYU shot 33 of 67 from the field, and half of the makes came from behind the arc. Weber State was forced by the Cougars defense into taking what Rahe said was too many 3-pointers for his team, and shot 23 of 56 from the field and 8 of 29 from 3-point range.