In the closing moments of BYU’s overtime win against Loyola Marymount last Thursday, freshman forward Fousseyni Traore suffered an injury that caused him to be sidelined for last Saturday’s win at Pepperdine.

The Cougars face Saint Mary’s this Saturday (8 p.m. MST, ESPN), and they need Traore’s size, strength and athleticism.

Against the Lions, Traore hit 8 of 11 field goals, tied a career-high with 19 points, collected 12 rebounds and blocked a career-high four shots.

This season, Traore is averaging 8.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. 

Coach Mark Pope revealed after Tuesday’s practice that Traore is dealing with a “groin issue.”

Traore, a native of Mali, Africa, who is known as “Fouss,” has not been practicing. 

“It’s kind of like touch-and-go. He hasn’t participated in any practice the last couple of days,” Pope said. “If there’s a chance he can go a little bit Thursday, maybe we have him for Saturday. We’ll wait and see.”

Pope mentioned that Traore suffered a hamstring issue last summer that affected him for six weeks. 

“The thing about Fouss, if this was me, I’d be able to play because I was as explosive as a slug,” Pope joked. “Fouss, on the other hand, is ridiculously explosive. He actually uses his muscles. That’s the problem.”

Cougars on the air

BYU (19-8, 7-5)

at Saint Mary’s (21-6, 9-3) 

Saturday, 8 p.m. MST

University Credit Union Pavilion


Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM

If Traore can’t play against Saint Mary’s, Caleb Lohner will likely start at the 5 spot, like he did against Pepperdine.

Lohner made 6 of 7 shots from the field, 2 of 2 from 3-point range, and scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds against the Waves. 

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“Fouss is an incredible basketball player. That means I’ll be playing more of the five,” Lohner said Tuesday. “At the end of the day, I just don’t think it matters. I mean, it does matter. Of course, we want all of our guys. But we’ve been dealing with this all season. Without Fouss, it really, really hurts us. But we’ve got to find a way to win with what we have.”

Earlier this season, the Cougars lost two big men for the season — Gavin Baxter and Richard Harward.

Meanwhile, Pope is hoping his team can get healthier before Saturday. 

Guard Te’Jon Lucas has been dealing with a hand injury for most of the season.

“He got landed on a couple of months ago. It won’t heal until after the season. That’s been an ongoing thing that he’s trying to deal with,” Pope said. “But I thought he was great down the stretch (against Pepperdine). His decision-making with the ball in his hands was good. He was able to take a little bit of pressure off of Alex (Barcello) down the stretch. He made the right decisions. He had foul trouble early and the feel and flow of the game was tough for him. But he’s done that before, where he’s had a complicated first half and come back to have a solid second half.”