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BYU still looking for go-to guy as it turns focus to Texas Longhorns

BYU competed better in the second half but a dry spell before halftime doomed Cougars against Houston

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BYU coach Mark Pope calls out instructions as BYU and Houston play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024.

BYU coach Mark Pope calls out instructions as BYU and Houston play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. The Cougars take on Texas Saturday in Provo.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

This article was first published in the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

BYU basketball will host Texas on Saturday in what will be a crucial home game to get back on track after losing a nail-biter to No. 4 Houston on Tuesday, 75-68.

BYUTexasTV

Cougars on the air


Texas (3-3, 14-5)
at No. 21 BYU (2-4, 14-5)
Saturday, 12 p.m. MST
Marriott Center, Provo, Utah
TV: ESPN2
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM


BYU had plenty of chances to take down the league’s top team by making a furious comeback in the second half that they let slip in the final minutes of the first half. Here is Jay Drew’s analysis of the BYU-Houston game.

Cougar Insider predictions

Question of the week: What can BYU do to compete better in the second half of Big 12 games? 

Jay Drew: If six Big 12 games have proven anything for BYU — that’s one-third of the conference season — it is that the Cougars have what it takes to be competitive in the country’s unquestioned best basketball conference.

Now if the Cougars could only prove they can finish. Competing better in the second half will be a good start, although ironically in Tuesday’s 75-68 loss to No. 4 Houston at the Marriott Center, it was a rough stretch at the end of the first half that really led to BYU’s downfall.

The issues are varied, but the No. 1 problem, in my eyes, is that BYU just isn’t deep enough at the point guard position. Starter Dallin Hall is developing into a quality Big 12 point guard, but he’s got no help. Putting the 6-foot-7 Jaxson Robinson at the point, even in a backup role, isn’t the answer.

To better compete in the final 20 minutes — Tuesday’s game against Houston was the first Big 12 contest in which BYU hasn’t led at halftime — BYU also needs to find a go-to guy. Texas Tech had one in Pop Isaacs; Houston had one in Jamal Shead, although BYU elected to intentionally foul 52% free-throw shooter J’Wan Roberts, and he promptly made what turned out to be the game-winning free throw with 62 seconds remaining.

Dick Harmon: We’ve seen enough of BYU in Big 12 games to understand the Cougars’ strengths and weaknesses. Also, BYU has proven it can compete. It’s just a league in which you cannot afford to let weaknesses surface at crunch time, and that’s what has happened in BYU’s losses.

On Tuesday, BYU took on the nation’s No. 1 defense in Houston and the game was tied at 68 with two minutes to play. Houston won the game by making free throws and the Cougars lost it with untimely turnovers and the very best shooters on the team missing 3-pointers.

In six games, Mark Pope’s team has learned how physical Big 12 play can be. The players also learned that they have to trust the system, that one extra pass to get someone open can make all the difference in the world. BYU’s go-to guy seems to be Dallin Hall in crunch time, but that is sometimes difficult to pull off and Pope has to rely on outside shots, which are open, to be the difference.

Everyone knew this season would hinge on 3-point makes. If they go in, BYU can beat anybody in the league. If they don’t, they can lose to anyone. In this regard, the success points haven’t changed. It’s pretty simple. 

Cougar tales

BYU’s heartbreaking second-half stumble at Texas Tech proved to be heat check for Mark Pope and his Cougars team. In this piece, Jay Drew lists some of the reasons for losing the game after leading by 17. In a day-after perspective, this story outlines in more depth what happened to the Cougars at Texas Tech. 

From the archives

From the X-verse

Extra points

Fanalyst

Comments by Deseret News readers

BYU needs someone on the court that can help settle the team down. In every loss in the Big 12, the Cougars start throwing up shots too fast, they take too many contested shots. When you’re struggling to make shots, shooting contested shots is not the answer. They needed to get a layup or an easy shot, maybe foul shots, to see the ball go in, then work their way back into the long ball. They are just too undisciplined right now. I expected Spencer Johnson to be a little more of a calming influence, but he’s not. It’s like they all want to be the one to reignite the offense, but that’s not how it works. It’s fine to live or die by the 3-pointer, but not when they are contested. They also need to figure out a way to handle the pressure. They are failing miserably there.

— El Conquistador

Six Big 12 teams ranked in the AP Top 25.

No other conference has more than three.

As many as 10 Big 12 teams are projected to be invited to the Big Dance.

Best Men’s Basketball Conference in the country and that’s not even debatable.

BlueCoug

The good news when you lose in the Big 12, you don’t take a big hit. The bad news is, boy the Big 12 is a beast of a basketball conference. Win half your games, you’ll be a 7th seed or better in the tourney.

Wise Sage

Up next

  • Jan. 25 | 2 p.m. | Men’s tennis | Loyola Marymount | @ Los Angeles
  • Jan 26-27 | TBA | Track and field | Bob Pollock Invitational | @ Clemson, South Carolina
  • Jan 26-27 | TBA | Track and field | John Thomas Terrier Invitational | @ Boston
  • Jan. 27 | noon | Men’s basketball | Texas | @ Provo
  • Jan. 27 | 3 p.m. | Women’s basketball | Kansas State | @ Manhattan, Kansas

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