Gonzaga has become the 800-pound Godzilla of the West Coast Conference that is nationally significant. Four Zags dominate Ken Pomeroy’s first-team all-conference squad.
However, the fifth member of that all-WCC team, BYU senior guard Alex Barcello, serves as a subtle reminder—don’t forget about the Cougars. They are in second place in the league, 22nd in the country in offensive efficiency, and 36th on the defensive end.
When the NCAA brackets are revealed, a few programs might not be very pleased to see those three letters in their immediate neighborhoods, and not just because of Barcello.
- Saint Mary’s at Brigham Young -8, Total 124, Saturday, 10 pm ET
- Action: Over 124
The two teams have played inside the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, 16 times, and none of those ended with fewer than 125 points tallied by both teams.
|DraftKings Sportsbook||Point Spread||Moneyline||Totals|
|Saint Mary's||+8 (-110)||TBD||O 124 (-110)|
|Brigham Young||-8 (-110)||TBD||U 124 (-110)|
Since 2011-12, when BYU joined Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference, they have played inside Marriott nine times, with their average combined points being 141.4 points.
Five of the past six Saint Mary’s road games have gone Over their totals, as have four of the Cougars’ past six tilts. Saint Mary’s (13-7, 4-5 in the WCC) is 5-6 over its past 11 games.
BYU (18-5, 9-3) is second in its conference, not that anyone would notice with Gonzilla lurking. The Cougars have not dropped consecutive games all season, one of our marks of excellence, and are rated 24th overall in the country by KenPom. Saint Mary’s is No. 78.
The 6-foot-2 senior and Phoenix native averages 16 points and 4.6 assists, shoots 54.1% from the field and 83.3% at the line. He’s an assassin, however, with a 49.4% touch beyond the 3-point arc, the 11th-best long-range touch in the country.
Thursday night, in a 79-73 victory over San Francisco inside Marriott, he sank all seven of his 3-point attempts to finish with a career-best 29 points, all the more special since it was the first time fans were allowed inside Marriott all season.
There were fewer than 2,000 spectators, but to Barcello it seemed as if it were a standing-room-only affair. His high-arcing shots brought down the house, and he set a single-game program record for 3-pointers without a miss.
“When I banged in my first ‘three,’ I kind of shot an arrow up in the stands,” he told the Deseret News. “Everyone was going nuts. People have signs … the energy was amazing.”
The Saint Mary’s perimeter defense is among the bottom third of the country, at 34.9%. It’s worse (36.8%) over its past three games, and even worse than that (38.7%) on the road.
Barcello just might feed off that energy in a big way this evening in the Cougars’ regular-season finale and his last game on the Marriott court.
Barcello had five assists and no turnovers against the Dons, which impressed BYU coach Mark Pope as much as those seven 3-point shots.
“A huge performance from Alex Barcello, in terms of protecting the ball,” said Pope. “His ability and physicality to protect the ball down the stretch late in the game was massively important.”
Senior guard Brandon Averette (11.4 ppg) and Matt Haarms (11 ppg, 55.7% FGs), a 7-3, 250-pound center from Amsterdam who left Purdue to play his senior season in Provo, also averages double-digit scoring for the Cougars.
Caleb Lohner, a 6-8 rookie forward, is a 54.9% shooter inside the arc, 40% beyond the perimeter.
The spotlight of the game will be focused on its point guards, as Saint Mary’s senior Tommy Kuhse (team-high 12.9 ppg, 5.2 apg) is the Gaels’ engine.
Junior guard Logan Johnson (12.5 ppg) and Matthias Tass (11 ppg), a 6-10 junior center from Estonia, are complementary parts, and forwards Dan Fotu (6-7 junior from New Zealand) and Kyle Bowen (6-8 sophomore from Australia) help patrol the paint.