Takeaways From NYE Win Over Portland

Takeaways From NYE Win Over Portland

PROVO, Utah — BYU Basketball defeated the Portland Pilots 71-58 on New Year’s Eve. It was BYU’s seventh straight win and Portland’s fourth straight loss.

The Pilots were without their top two scorers in Tyler Robertson and Moses Wood. BYU improves to 13-0 all-time at home against the Pilots.

Final: @BYUMBB extends winning streak to seven games with 71-58 win over @PortlandPilots.#BYUHoops #GoCougs

— KSL Sports (@kslsports) January 1, 2023

BYU moves to 2-0 in West Coast Conference play as they now focus on the 2023 calendar year. This is only the fourth time in BYU’s time in the WCC that they have opened the league game 2-0.

Here are some takeaways from Saturday night’s win.

Gideon George is a game changer for BYU offense

Entering Saturday night, senior Gideon George was in a bit of a rut on the attacking side of the pitch. He hasn’t hit double digits in BYU’s last three games.

George paced for a similar result throughout the first half against Portland. But then he came alive in the second half because he set the tone in the second half.

George knocked down a pair of corner threes that contributed to the senior forward’s 20-point night that also included nine rebounds.

When George has success on the offensive end of the floor, it’s a game-changer for BYU. They will need him to continue performing at a high level on the attacking side of the WCC game.

Atiki Ally Atiki continues to add moves to his game

The progress of BYU big man Atiki Ally Atiki continues to show in game streaks. During the second half of the win over Portland, Atiki scored eight points on a variety of moves that included alley-oops and facing the basket into the post.

Atiki came to BYU with less than 30 games of organized basketball experience. So the learning curve is still there for him, but throughout this season you’ve wanted to see continued growth. He continues to show it, which is a positive development for the rest of this year. But more importantly, the Big 12 next year.

The first half was hard to watch

In the under-four media timeout, the first half of the Peach Bowl between Ohio State and Georgia topped the BYU/Portland game. BYU trailed the Pilots 21-17 in an error-filled first half.

The Cougars tied for first at 26 thanks to Dallin Hall’s patented cross for a three. But the first 20 minutes saw BYU commit 12 turnovers.

Those BYU errors led to 17 of Portland’s 26 points in the first half. This level of revenue will cost BYU games at some point in the rest of the WCC action. Over two league games, BYU averages 20 turnovers per game.

The only highlights of the first half were on the Portland side. Especially from former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Kristian Sjolund. Sjolund buried two deep threes and then had a dunk that was one of the best throws you’ll see in college hoops this year.

BYU took care of the basketball in the second half

During the second half of the game, BYU pulled away with better ball safety. BYU only had seven turnovers (it still has to be less), but there was a rhythm to the offense that led to better execution.

It also helped improve shooting from threes within 20 seconds as BYU knocked down 46% of their attempts from deep. The aforementioned Gideon George led the way with three treys.

Good atmosphere for New Year’s Eve

It’s not often that BYU has a home game over the holidays. Playing a game on New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m. that involved inclement weather on the drive made me wonder what kind of crowd would be on hand to watch BYU take on an average Portland team.

Attendance tonight: 13,793

Solid atmosphere at the Marriott Center on New Years Eve.

— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) January 1, 2023

The announced final attendance was 13,793 people. An impressive performance by BYU fans, which led to a great atmosphere in the gymnasium.

In the second half, BYU ROC, who were outnumbered because the school is still closed for the holidays, showed off one of the blue inflatables. This led to a Portland player missing a pair of free throws.

Solid energy at the Marriott Center to close out the 2022 calendar year.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday 12-3pm) podcast on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch and his BYU basketball coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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