Pope fires up Cougars for comeback win against Dayton
BYU men’s basketball coach Mark Pope had some choice words for his team after they had fallen behind by 23 points in the first half against Dayton in the last game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Friday.
Whatever he said worked, since the Cougars rallied, forced overtime and eventually won the game 79-75.
“I think tonight showed a lot about our character,” BYU freshman Dallin Hall said in the post-game interview session. “It shows we can always come back and win. When they jumped on us early, we had a time out and Coach told us we needed to compete. So we had a couple of defensive rebounds where we really boxed out. Then we got out and ran. After that, I felt like we had a chance at winning. We had to do it one possession at a time. So it was a process but with this group of guys, I always believe we have a chance at winning.”
Pope interjected with, “I appreciate Dallin editing that time out conversation for the content.”
The Cougars needed shaken up, trailing 32-9 with about six minutes to go in the first half against the Flyers. BYU was a little over a half away from going 0-3 in the tournament.
“We’ve got a long way to go, clearly, if we’re going to be nationally relevant,” Pope said. “But we also can travel great distances in a short time. What I mean by that is you just take these three games. The first night (an 82-76 loss to USC), we weren’t great. Our competitive nature wasn’t great. Our spirit wasn’t great. We really struggled. Then last night (a 75-70 loss to Butler) our competitive spirt was excellent. We took one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country a just with sheer effort and will we end up with 17 offensive rebounds. So we made huge progress there and still ended up with a loss. Tonight (vs. Dayton) these guys managed to put two things together with incredible competitive spirit and just a little healthy dose of execution.”
One big plus to emerge from the tournament was shooting of Arkansas transfer Jaxson Robinson, who was just 4 of 23 (17%) from the 3-point line in the first four games of the season. Against USC, Butler and Dayton, Robinson was 9 of 18 (50%) and scored a BYU career-best 14 points against the Trojans and the Flyers.
“I don’t think anything has changed,” Robinson said. “I’m a shooter and as a shooter, you have to stay confident. I feel like my teammates and my coaches have done a great job instilling that confidence in me, telling me to keep shooting it no matter if the ball goes in our not. Just keeping that confidence is the biggest thing.”
Over the years, BYU has scheduled a neutral site games in Salt Lake City against the likes of Arizona, Oklahoma State and Michigan State.
The Cougars are playing at Vivint Arena twice this week, but the level of competition is far different. On Tuesday, BYU will play NAIA school Westminster and on Saturday against Summit League opponent South Dakota.
The Griffins, coached by Norm Parrish, are 0-5 this season after dropping a pair of games over the weekend to Alaska-Anchorage (81-77) and Alaska-Fairbanks (72-65).
There are some familiar names on the Westminster roster, including former Cougars Jeremy Dowdell and Taylor Miller. Dowdell was a redshirt in Provo last year and is averaging 9.8 points per game for the Griffins. Miller spent a semester on the BYU roster during the end of Dave Rose’s tenure.
Westminster’s leading scorer is former Utah Valley University player Trey Farrer, a 6-foot-9 junior forward averaging 20 points per game. The roster also includes another former Wolverine in 6-6 sophomore forward Lewis Johnson.
BYU and Westminster met last year in Provo with the Cougars earning a closer-than-expected 65-53 victory.
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
BYU (4-3) vs. Westminster (0-5)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. MT
Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City
Radio: Sirius XM 143/BYU Radio.org/BYU Radio app/KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM
Live stats: byucougars.com
The Word: BYU defeated Westminster 65-53 in Provo on Dec. 29 of last year. … The Griffins are 0-5 this season after losing at Alaska-Anchorage (81-77) and Alaska-Fairbanks (72-65) over the weekend. … BYU went 1-2 at the Battle 4 Atlantis last week, losing to USC and Butler and rallying from 23 points down to beat Dayton in overtime. … Westminster’s leading scorer is former Utah Valley University player Trey Farrer (20 points per game).