It was 1 of the most epic basketball video games in the 50-12 months history of the Marriott Middle.
No. 23 BYU upset No. 2 Gonzaga 91-78 on Senior Night time final Feb. 22 in front of a national television audience and a sellout crowd of 18,987. After the signature victory, Cougars fans stormed the court docket to celebrate.
That evening, BYU snapped the Zags’ 19-recreation profitable streak and ended their 39-sport West Coastline Convention successful streak.
Gonzaga hasn’t shed a game because.
For coach Mark Pope, it was a night time he’ll never ever neglect.
“I can remember each and every instant of the whole deal. I imagine the most meaningful factor for me, primarily with how the period finished up, was that we obtained to share that journey with those younger adult males,” he reported past Friday. “I’m so grateful for that second for all those men and for all us, that we all acquired to share it jointly. It wasn’t just a huge gain, it was every little thing that led up to it and the environment in the health club, it was the time of the year. It was what people fellas had been combating for the last few of years. It was all these things coming together in a minute that was truly impressive. A lot of us, people today who adore BYU, will don’t forget that second endlessly. By definition, you can’t get all those times all the time. Occasionally you never get them in a total profession. But we bought to share it with each other and it was tremendous special.”
Pretty much a calendar year later, the Cougars host No. 1 Gonzaga Monday (9 p.m. MST, ESPN).
It is not Senior Evening and there will not be lovers in the stands, other than the teams’ buddies and spouse and children members. As it turns out, very last year’s video game was the very last time that supporters have been allowed to go to game titles at the Marriott Center, because of to the pandemic.
This showdown was moved up — it was originally scheduled to be the frequent-year finale for equally groups — from Feb. 27. But when both equally groups experienced video games canceled or postponed because of to COVID-19 concerns within just the WCC, the matchup was expedited.
Pope had been hoping that this game would be performed later in the period, when initially scheduled, in the hope that perhaps by then some supporters would be permitted to attend and also in the hope that his team would be more created.
“Anytime you have an option to enjoy the No. 1 team in the country, you come to feel blessed,” he mentioned. “We’re energized to participate in them yesterday, tomorrow, three weeks from now, every time. They give a gift to our league (staying ranked No. 1).” — BYU coach Mark Pope
Even now, Pope is joyful for this problem.
“Anytime you have an prospect to perform the No. 1 team in the country, you experience blessed,” he reported. “We’re fired up to participate in them yesterday, tomorrow, a few months from now, when. They give a reward to our league (currently being rated No. 1).”
What was the players’ response to playing Gonzaga (18-, 9-) sooner than anticipated?
“We were being all hyped. We had been actually enthusiastic. We want to enjoy the very best competitors,” mentioned guard Alex Barcello. “We have a high perception in ourselves and our likely and the ceiling we can get to. We just want to go exam that and have problems — that’s playing the most effective groups that we can.”
BYU (15-4, 6-2) is aware of pulling another monumental upset about the Zags will be hard.
Gonzaga features the prime two scorers in the league with Corey Kispert (19.9 ppg) and Drew Timme (18.8 ppg). It also has a single of the finest freshmen in the state in Jalen Suggs. But additional than something, the Bulldogs play as a group.
“They’re such elite passers and have these a excellent perception for space. They have size and they can pick you apart offensively,” Pope stated. “They’re elite passers in changeover. Their size and physicality on the defensive finish and their athleticism and ability to pass the ball and their IQ in phrases of reducing sets them apart from every crew in the nation.”
BYU fell 86-69 at Gonzaga in Spokane on Jan. 7 in a video game that was also unexpectedly moved up thanks to COVID-19 troubles.
“Gonzaga is No. 1 in the place for a purpose. They’ve bought a good deal of proficient men. We know that and we felt that during that recreation,” Barcello said. “There’s a ton of items on the defensive aspect of the ball that we needed to cleanse up. But it is also our mentality — not dropping target on what we’re coming in below to do in this game. If we can execute our offense, and know their personnel, it is likely to be a really superior recreation.”
Barcello claimed he does not dwell on that upset more than Gonzaga last year. He’s targeted on this year’s crew and what it can complete.
“I’m making an attempt to emphasis on what we have in advance of us. Absolutely, previous year it was a phenomenal video game,” he reported. “We ended up quite excited to have won it. It was a fantastic accomplishment.”
Pope claimed he won’t use previous year’s epic victory as drive in the pre-activity locker space speech Monday. Or will he?
“Maybe I ought to,” he stated.