Gavin Baxter Injury Among Observations From BYU Basketball Loss At Utah Valley

Dec 1, 2021, 11:05 PM
BYU Spencer Johnson made basket vs Utah Valley...
BYU Spencer Johnson made basket vs Utah Valley (Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

Orem, Utah – The No. 12 BYU basketball team suffered their first defeat of the season after losing in overtime to the Utah Valley Wolverines 72-65.

Wolverine center Fardaws Aimaq scored 24 points while pulling down 22 rebounds to lead Utah Valley.

BYU center Gavin Baxter left the game in first half after falling to the floor. More on him below in my three observations.

1. Gavin Baxter injury

There’s no underestimating the impact of Gavin Baxter on this team.

He played a key role in the Cougars first road win of the year at Utah.

Baxter looked the part of a starting center who could impact the floor on both ends.

His value greatly increased after the injury to starting center Richard Harward.

With 11:58 remaining in the first half, Baxter trailed a fast break opportunity by Utah Valley.

After the dust settled at the rim, Baxter remained laying on the floor for quite some time. 

It’s a gut-wrenching injury on many levels because of what he’s overcome during his career at BYU.

As for how this affects BYU going forward, it’s a massive loss.

The only healthy center on the roster right now is true freshman Atiki Ally Atiki, who saw 13 minutes filing in for Baxter.

Caleb Lohner and Fousseyni Traore will see more time playing small-ball center for the Cougars as they try and hold down the fort until Harward returns to play.

Anything is possible in sports, but I have a hard time seeing BYU competing for a WCC championship without a true center to battle with the height of Gonzaga.

2. Spencer Johnson 6th man for BYU basketball

Johnson continues to make a case for increased minutes because of the impact he has on both sides of the floor.

He scored 15 points off the bench while grabbing nine rebounds.

I’ve been impressed with his ability to score in various ways. He made multiple mid-range jumpers as well as a two three point made shots.

The junior from American Fork, Utah is also one of the teams best defenders. For most of the night, he guarded former Cougar Connor Harding who was held to 10 points only making 25 percent of his shots.

He made a critical shot at the end of regulation to force overtime. His missed free throws late may have cost BYU the win, but there was much more positive stuff from Johnson in the loss.

3. Ice cold shooting

Earlier in the week, head coach Mark Pope was asked if he was concerned about his team’s shooting percentage. He responded with a resounding “no.”

After shooting 32 percent in a loss to Utah Valley, it’s becoming more of a concern.

The most concerning aspect to the Cougar offense is their inability to get Alex Barcello more open three point shot opportunities.

His lone three point make came at the end of overtime when the game was already decided.

Prior to the loss, BYU basketball was ranked 265th in the country in three point shooting.

Against the Wolverines, they made only 26 percent of long distance attempts.

It’s a make or miss game, and the Cougar offense is missing too many shots.

You can hear Matt Baiamonte every Saturday on KSL Newsradio for Cougar Sports Saturday from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. or you can find him on Twitter here.

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Gavin Baxter Injury Among Observations From BYU Basketball Loss At Utah Valley