A couple of games ago, BYU coach Mark Pope decided to make a big change with his starting lineup.

He inserted freshman Dallin Hall as the starter at point guard in place of senior Rudi Williams.

That produced some interesting results in the Cougars’ 83-80 upset of then-No. 21 Creighton Saturday, which snapped a two-game losing streak.

While Williams came off the bench to score a season-high 26 points in 31 minutes, Hall, who played 21 minutes and scored seven points, recorded the game-winning basket with 11 seconds remaining.

Hall had five assists with three turnovers while Williams dished out four assists to go along with six turnovers.   

There doesn’t appear to be any tension between the two as both players are focused on helping BYU (6-5) get better. 

Williams, a transfer from Coastal Carolina, hasn’t altered his approach despite the fact his role is different. 

Could the upset of No. 21 Creighton be the turning point BYU desperately needed?

“There hasn’t been any change to what I do day-to-day or how I think or how I operate,” he said. “I’m still doing the same stuff — watching film and getting shots up and working on my skill work. In my eyes, nothing has changed. I still get into the game and I still contribute and help this team. I’m fighting for my guys. I’m not worried about it at all.”

Williams has struggled with turnovers this season, which factored into the decision to bring him off the bench. 

But Pope said Williams’ contributions are extensive and his leadership skills are invaluable. 

BYU guard Rudi Williams dribbles while surveying the court during game against Creighton on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Las Vegas. BYU won 83-80. | Ronda Churchill, Associated Press

“In a lot of ways, Rudi is a leader of this team, for sure. Specifically, over the last couple of games, coming off the bench and he’s playing better off the bench than he was starting,” he said. “He’s such a great human being with such great insides. He cares about this team and he cares about winning.

“For him to perform this way from that spot is way bigger than him just coming off the bench and scoring some points. When you have leadership like that, a team can grow around it. We desperately need it and he’s delivering.”

Hall, who returned home from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fresno, California, over the summer, is learning a lot from Williams. 

Twice already during his young career, Hall has recorded game-winning shots

What is it about Hall that’s allowed him to perform so well in the clutch? 

“Dallin is in a really incredible situation in terms of having Rudi in the backcourt with him. I genuinely don’t know if I’ve ever had the honor of coaching a player that would … Rudi is so keen on sharing everything with Dallin, helping him grow and supporting him. In a really interesting situation, Dallin walks out there and he feels supported,” Pope said. “He feels like Rudi has his back 100%. He can also lean on Rudi because he knows that Rudi will go make great plays. I would start there.

BYU guard Dallin Hall reacts after a play during game against Creighton, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Las Vegas. | Ronda Churchill, Associated Press

“The best thing Dallin Hall has going for him right now is he can walk into this place with Rudi Williams. And I also think Dallin is special. We have a bunch of guys on this team, and some freshmen, that are really, really special. He’d be the first one to tell you that he’s got a billion ways that he needs to grow.”

Of course, BYU is depending on contributions from a lot of players. Another freshman, Richie Saunders, scored 10 points against Creighton and plays strong defense. 

Saunders was recruited hard by Creighton when he was playing at Wasatch Academy. Ultimately, he decided to sign with the Cougars before his mission to Seattle. 

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“This Richie Saunders was incredible,” Pope said last Saturday. “When I was recruiting Richie years ago, pre-mission, when I first got to BYU, I was begging him. I was like, ‘Richie, I know Creighton is a big-time program but we need you more.’ It was super fun. He is a perfect fit for that program. Almost as perfect as he is for our program. For him to come in tonight as a freshman and play so huge, I’m super proud of him. He’s a guy that puts his whole heart into stuff. It’s great.”

Trey Stewart and Atiki Ally Atiki also played key roles off the bench for BYU. 

Pope is trying to develop the talent on his roster and figure out ways to blend and mold these players into a winning team. 

“You look down the roster right now and (assistant) coach (Nick) Robinson pointed it out. We talk about the “Best Locker Room in America” and it’s something everybody’s striving for,” Pope said. “There’s just not that many times when you’re in the heat of battle and nobody has any agenda other than trying to help the team win, whether they’re playing the whole game or not playing at all. … We can float around in that space and if we can keep floating around in that space, we can be really good.”

And a key ingredient to success involves the point guard position with Hall and Williams.

“Dallin’s got an incredible — and I’m not being hyperbolic — he’s got an incredible mentor in Rudi,” Pope said. “He’s in a good situation right now.”

BYU coach Mark Pope yells during game against Missouri State at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.
BYU coach Mark Pope yells during game against Missouri State at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. Pope recently switched up his lineup, moving point guard Dallin Hall into the starting five and bringing senior Rudi Williams off the bench. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News