KANSAS CITY — Fifth-seeded BYU’s discouraging 81-67 loss to fourth-seeded Texas Tech in the Big 12 quarterfinals Thursday will be analyzed, dissected and picked apart in the next couple of days before the narrative changes a bit and NCAA Tournament bids are announced.

The 10th loss of the season will be quickly forgotten if BYU can win a game or two in the Big Dance.

How can the Cougars shoot better? How can they defend better? How can they get off to better starts?

Well, here’s an answer to that third question, which admittedly (conveniently?) ignores the fact that BYU got out to a 14-0 lead in the 87-73 win over UCF on Wednesday.

Texas Tech took a quick 9-0 lead Thursday and BYU never got closer than six points the rest of the way, marking just the third time this season that the Cougars never played with the lead. Losses at Kansas State and Oklahoma State were the others when BYU trailed wire to wire.

Is it time for coach Mark Pope to shuffle his starting lineup? Sure, the current arrangement isn’t broke. So why try to fix it?

Because the Cougars cannot afford another start like they got off to Thursday morning in Kansas City, especially if they are a significant favorite in an NCAA Tournament first-round game. Letting the opponent jump out quickly, gain confidence and perhaps get the crowd behind the underdog — if BYU doesn’t get its hoped-for berth in Salt Lake City — could be problematic for the Cougars.

Senior Jaxson Robinson deservedly earned the Big 12′s Sixth Man of the Year award last Sunday, but now might be a good time to get BYU’s scoring leader on the floor for the opening tip and bring starting three-man Trevin Knell off the bench.

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Two of BYU’s best performers in the Texas Tech loss — and there weren’t many — were Richie Saunders and Fouss Traore. Both came off the bench, replacing Aly Khalifa and Noah Waterman, who were both ineffective and slightly off their games with ankle injuries exacerbated in the physical affair.

BYU’s starters were 1 of 17 from 3-point range in the 14-point loss.

The 42-23 first-half deficit, 19 points, was the largest the Cougars have faced this season.

“Unfortunately, Texas Tech just came out with more energy than we did,” BYU guard Spencer Johnson, a starter, said.

When Knell sustained a foot injury in BYU’s third Big 12 game, the 63-58 win over UCF in Orlando, Pope out of necessity started Robinson in the next six games. The Cougars beat Iowa State, Texas and West Virginia in that six-game stretch, while losing at Texas Tech and Oklahoma and giving No. 1 Houston all it wanted in the Marriott Center before falling 75-68 on Jan. 23.

Saunders and Robinson are the two Cougars who can create their own shots. They need to be on the dance floor more during March Madness, it would seem.

“This was a hard loss, and we are sad,” Saunders said with a steely resolve. “But we will figure it out, and move forward with what we have learned, and apply it to this next game. We are super grateful to have another opportunity.”

Another train of thought could be that the Cougars have been outstanding this season after tough losses, so they should simply regroup and keep on doing what they’ve been doing.

After losing at Texas Tech, they almost beat Houston and then waxed Texas. After losing at Oklahoma State, they beat Baylor. After losing at Kansas State, they beat Kansas and TCU and almost upset Iowa State in Ames. The list goes on.

“We will be fine,” Khalifa said after spraining his ankle in the first half against Tech and missing the second half. “This team has been resilient all season. We will stick together and play better next time.”