It was one of those preseason games where BYU looked like world beaters for part of the game but couldn’t buy a basket for a while, too.
Fortunately for the Cougars the good moments far outweighed the bad and resulted in a 87-71 victory against Texas Southern Monday in the Marriott Center.
Brandon Averette provided a lot of those good moments, scoring a career-high 30 points to lead BYU, including 23 in the second half. Matt Haarms added 16 points, Richard Harward had 13 and Alex Barcello contributed 10 points and a career-best 10 assists.
Michael Weather led Texas Southern (2-5) with 19 points and Yahuza Rasas added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tigers, with its top seven players Division I transfers, were picked to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference this season and the Cougars could never quite relax in the game.
BYU (8-2) started off the game very efficiently on the offensive end, attacking the Tigers first inside with Haarms and Kolby Lee then finding range from the 3-point line. The Cougars were 10-of-13 from the field (77%) and 4-of-6 (67%) from the 3-point line to start the game. The lead was 13, 28-15, when Harward powered in for a basket with 12 minutes remaining in the first half. At one point, BYU made seven consecutive shots.
The Cougars struggled shooting the ball the rest of the half, making just 1 of 8 from the 3-point line and Texas Southern crept back to within 10, 42-32, at the break.
BYU opened the second half by outscoring the Tigers 13-3. Averette completed a 3-point play and then hit a 3-pointer, followed by a basket from Haarms and a 3-point play from Harward for a 55-35 lead at the 16:05 mark.
Later, Harward fed Caleb Lohner for a basket and the next time down the floor Lohner returned the favor, dishing to Harward for a two-handed flush and a 61-39 advantage with 13:08 to play.
The Cougars got sloppy on both ends and Texas Southern went on a 13-0 run, cutting a 22-point deficit to nine (61-52) on a rebound basket by Weathers with 8:49 remaining. A pair of 3-pointers by Averette and Connor Harding pushed the BYU lead back up to 15, 67-52, with 7:20 to go.
The Tigers sliced the lead to nine again, 69-60, with 5:56 to play but Averette continued his hot shooting, scoring seven straight points for a 76-61 advantage at the 4:38 remaining.
BYU will close its preseason schedule on Wednesday with an in-state matchup against Weber State at Vivint SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.