WACO, Texas — Although it still carries the highest “thrill score” of all the Tuesday night college basketball games on the docket, the BYU-at-Baylor showdown at the new $212 million Foster Pavilion lost some of its luster Saturday night when the then-No. 12 Cougars were upset at home 71-60 by unranked Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, nationally ranked Baylor took care of business, but just barely. The Bears edged Oklahoma State 75-70 in overtime in their Big 12 opener in Stillwater.

“We came in as the No. 1 3-point shooting team in the country. I don’t think we are leaving that way.” — Baylor coach Scott Drew after the Bears went 2 of 15 against Oklahoma State

Nevertheless, the 7 p.m. MST matchup in Waco is still big, especially for 12-2 BYU, which tumbled to No. 18 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll released Monday and is looking to recover from its biggest loss of the season.

Baylor (1-0, 12-2) rose from No. 18 to No. 14. 

The 11th all-time meeting (the series is tied 5-5) between the Bears and Cougars, but first-ever league encounter, will be televised by ESPN+. All five of BYU’s wins over Baylor have been in Provo.

The sparkling new Foster Pavilion, which seats 7,500, is expected to be sold out for the Bears’ first league contest in the venue that replaced the 10,500-seat Ferrell Center, built in 1988.

“It is a dream for everybody to play in front of a sold-out crowd every single game. I feel like that is exactly what the Big 12 is,” BYU guard Trevin Knell said last week. “And to be able to play in a venue that is similar to ours is going to be super fun. I feel like our guys are ready. … It is going to be awesome to go to different places, to a little warmer places.”

In front of 16,879 fans in Provo Saturday night, Knell tied a Marriott Center record with nine 3-pointers in the 11-point loss to the Bearcats. He’s tied with Utah State’s Jay Goodman, who made nine against the Cougars on Nov. 24, 1990.

Three-pointers will be huge Tuesday night for both teams, as Baylor leads the country in 3-point percentage (43.2%) and BYU leads the country in made 3-pointers, 12.9 per game. The Bears make 9.4 triples per game.

“We came in as the No. 1 3-point shooting team in the country. I don’t think we are leaving that way,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said after the Bears went just 2 of 15 from beyond the arc against OSU.

When long-range shots weren’t falling in Stillwater, the Bears went inside, scoring 50 points in the paint. They outrebounded the Cowboys 40-31, grabbing 16 on the offensive end.

Later that night, BYU stuck to its tried-and-true formula of hoisting up 3s, but with unfavorable results as UC snapped the Cougars’ 10-game home winning streak.

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The 46 3-pointers (13 made) were the most ever attempted in a game by BYU. Four of the top 3-point shooting games in school history have come this year, part of coach Mark Pope’s plan to narrow the perceived talent gap with Big 12 teams with a heavy reliance on the long ball.

The problem Saturday, Pope said, was that BYU’s offensive rebounding dried up, a trait that has been a good tonic in previous games when the 3s weren’t falling.

Dallin Hall has made a 3-pointer in nine straight games, but was just 2 of 12 against the Bearcats. BYU shot 29.4% in the second half from the field and was 6 of 24 from 3-point range. 

The Cougars had been shooting 53% in second halves and had outscored opponents by 195 points after the break.

So there’s work to do Tuesday, against one of the best teams in the country, no less. BYU didn’t practice Sunday, per school policy, so there’s less prep time. But when the players were asked about that last week, they didn’t seem to mind.

“As much as we all love to practice with no games, it will actually be really fun,” guard Spencer Johnson said, partly tongue in cheek. “It will be fun to play twice a week, and in a lot of new venues, too. … It will be fun to get to travel to Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa. Some new places, so it will be fun.”

Cougars on the air

No. 18 BYU (0-1, 12-2)
at No. 14 Baylor (1-0, 12-2)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. MST
Foster Pavilion, Waco, Texas
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM

Current Cougars who were on the 2021-22 roster — Trey Stewart, Atiki Ally Atiki, Johnson, Knell and Fousseyni Traore — will see a familiar face at Foster. Former BYU starter Caleb Lohner is in his second year in the Baylor program, having transferred to Waco after earning all-WCC freshman honors at BYU.

Lohner, the 6-foot-8 forward from Dallas who prepped at Utah’s Wasatch Academy, played for just two minutes, 29 seconds, a season-low, against OSU and didn’t record a stat. Through 14 games, he’s averaging 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.2 minutes.

BYU will try to snap a six-game road losing skid. Its last road win came more than a year ago — a 68-48 win over San Diego on Jan. 7, 2023. The Cougars’ last road win against a ranked opponent came in Pope’s second season — a 72-62 win over No. 18 San Diego State.

BYU guard Spencer Johnson hits a 3-pointer against Cincinnati on Jan. 6, 2024. The Cougars play their first Big 12 road game Tuesday game at Baylor.,
BYU guard Spencer Johnson (20) hits a 3-pointer during loss to Cincinnati on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. The Cougars will need top up their 3-point game when they hit the road for their first Big 12 game Tuesday night against the Baylor Bears. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News