Despite allowing a 15-0 run towards the end of the game, BYU basketball dominated at LMU on Saturday. Now 17-5, BYU is no stranger to winning WCC games under head coach Mark Pope. However, this year's BYU basketball team hasn't always dominated in the same way that they dominated at LMU and at Pacific this week. From this author's perspective, Caleb Lohner's improvement as a true freshman has unlocked a new level for a tournament-bound BYU basketball team.
When Lohner appeared in his first game at BYU this season, his physical talents and abilities were evident. However, it took some time for Lohner to adjust to the speed and physicality of the college game. That's not a knock on him - that is expected of any true freshman that sees significant playing time in his first collegiate season. As BYU wraps up the regular season, Lohner's growth is evident. He looks more comfortable on both sides of the floor, and BYU is starting to gel at the right time.
Let's use Thursday's game at Pacific as an example. Lohner scored a career high 19 points on 6/8 shooting and 5/6 from deep. BYU beat Pacific 80-52 on the road.
The first time BYU and Pacific faced off in January, BYU needed double overtime to beat the Tigers 95-87. In that game, Lohner scored 4 points on 1/6 shooting and he shot 0/3 from three.
I'm not saying that Lohner improvement is the only reason for BYU's enhanced performance against Pacific, but his shooting has opened things up offensively for BYU as a whole.
Following a career performance on Thursday, Lohner scored 18 points on 6/10 shooting and he added 7 rebounds against LMU.
It's unfair to expect the same efficiency out of Lohner every game, and BYU will still rely on guys like Alex Barcello, Brandon Averette, and Matt Haarms. However, BYU is a very dangerous team when Lohner shoots at such a high level.
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