After the most crooked loss in the Mark Pope era, it’s not easier for BYU basketball

BYU striker Caleb Lohner shoots during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Gonzaga, Thursday, January 13, 2022 in Spokane, Washington (Young Kwak, Associated Press)

Estimated reading time: 5-6 minutes

PROVO – Mark Pope did not want to talk about silver medals or moral victories, although he saw good things from the 26-point loss of the BYU basketball to No. 2 Gonzaga in Spokane.

He was not upset by the efforts of his players, but rather by himself that he did not prepare the Cougars well enough.

The Zags (14-2, 2-0 WCC) made such teams feel that way. When BYU made what Pope called a “conscious decision” to oust star Drew Timme and top-ranked recruit Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga responded by hitting 10 threes in 15 attempts in the first half of the game. Andrew Nembhard.

When the Cougars took the opposite approach, Timme and Holmgren did their job. It was a game of poison selection and for the outside observer BYU in both cases chose the wrong one.

“That’s exactly what a good team does,” Pope said.

Gonzaga thoroughly defeated BYU, with four players in double-digit numbers, led by Timme 30 and a double-double 22 points with 12 assists from Nembhard, which included a four-point maximum.

The Zags scored 28 points in 14 turns, kept the Cougars out of the 28-15 offensive glass and reduced the BYU team, which shot reasonably well – 45% from the field and 13 out of 29 in the 3-point range is nothing terrible. numbers – for only 8 second chance points.

And then of course there were 110 points – the second match in a row, when the Zags crossed the century and the fourth match in a row with more than 93 points. This was the biggest deviation for the BYU team, which held opponents at 75 points or less in six games in a row, including a seasonal low of 43 points last weekend against Saint Mary’s.

“We can’t allow a team to score as many points and expect to beat a high quality team like Gonzaga,” said Caleb Lohner, who had 17 points and five rebounds. “We just have to take the game, put it aside, learn from it and improve.”

Lohner played his best match of the season against a Division I opponent and the best overall – at least offensive offense – since November 20, when he scored 19 against the NAIA Central Methodist. A Dallas-based sophomore who was preparing for Wasatch Academy shot 7 out of 10 from the field with two 3 points and a pair of thefts that helped offset the four turns.

“He worked really hard,” Pope said of Lohner. “He’s a really talented player. I was happy for him tonight.”

After scoring a total of 9 points in the previous four games, Lohner exploded in 22 minutes, each time he touched the ball – from an hour before the tip to the final whistle – Gonzaga’s student section whistled mercilessly after his comment. that the Zags are the most hated team at the conference has become viral among the Bulldog’s social networking circles.

Gonzaga ranger Andrew Nembhard shoots during the first half of the NCAA University basketball game against the BYU, Thursday, January 13, 2022, in Spokane, Washington.
Gonzaga ward Andrew Nembhard shoots during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against BYU, Thursday, January 13, 2022, in Spokane, Washington (Photo: Young Kwak, Associated Press)

They’re not necessarily wrong – rivals tend to hate teams that dominate any league, just as Gonzaga has run a conference on the West Coast for the past 20 years – and students haven’t blamed him either.

Lohner takes on the role of a villain with a reserve and also a smile on his face. In some ways, it made him play harder.

“There’s a recurring theme where I’m somehow hated in every outdoor game we go to,” the son of former BYU bodyguard and outstanding Provo High player Matt Lohner told Deseret News after the game. “It’s fun; I take it. But I respect every team we play with. It’s fun.”

This respect also applies to other opponents Cougars. After the worst defeat in Pope’s three seasons at BYU, the Cougars head to Hilltop to face the growing team in San Francisco, which was the surprise of the conference.

The Dons are 15-2 and ranked 34th according to KenPom – just seven places behind BYU – and boast a modified No. 55 attack so they can go with the top 30 defensive team.

The Cougars, led by the Pope, have never lost consecutive regular matches, but the series will be tested on Saturday night (21:00 MST, CBS Sports Network).

Third-year coach Todd Golden has 48-28 with Dons and Jamaree Bouyea leads the team with 17.8 points per game with a 41.7% 3-point clip, which is 11th nationally. Yauhen Massalski is also one of the top post players in the WCC, averaging 14.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game since joining the USF from his former school in San Diego.

Like the BYU, the Dons receive votes in the top 25 APs and could peek into the leaderboard without a close loss to Loyola Chicago in a hastily scheduled match at Salt Lake Community College a week ago. By the way, the Ramblers are ranked 28th in KenPom with the 18th best-placed offense in the country.

“San Francisco is a real team,” Lohner said. “We have to do the things we can and go there and win.”

The bombs licked their shots for about two minutes, Pope said, and moved on when they arrived late Thursday night on a charter flight from Spokane to San Francisco.

It’s part of the deal when you play with the top three conference teams in a row.

“We have no choice,” Pope said. “It’s fast approaching; jump on a plane and head down to play against a really, really explosive attack that can cause a lot of defense problems.”

“We had two minutes of mourning and then we have to learn. Our team is good at it … and that’s what we have to do.”

How to watch, stream, listen

BYU (14-4, 2-1 WCC) in San Francisco (15-2, 2-0 WCC)

Saturday, January 15 at War Memorial Gym

Give a warning: 21:00 MST

TV: CBS Sports Network

Streaming: CBS Sports App

Radio: BYU Radio 89.1 FM, KSL 102.7 FM / 1160 AM (Greg Wrubell, Mark Durrant)

Series: BYU leads, 22-9

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