Takeaways From BYU’s Victory Over Upset-Minded Idaho State
PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball has the potential for a high ceiling this season, but they’ve also got a low floor.
On Monday night, the low floor was tinkered with a bit as BYU avoided an upset against Idaho State. BYU defeated the upset-minded Bengals, 60-56.
With how much is new on this year’s BYU team, it will be a mixed bag of results on a nightly basis. In the season opener, it wasn’t pretty. But it’s better to learn after ugly wins than losses.
Here are some of my takeaways from BYU’s narrow win over the Bengals.
Spencer Johnson is why college sports are great
During an era of college basketball focused on the transfer portal, NIL, and constant movement, Spencer Johnson is a refreshing story. Johnson hit the game-winner on Monday to lift BYU over Idaho State.
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) November 8, 2022
From being a lightly recruited prospect out of American Fork High School, then going to Weber State, and then Utah Valley where Mark Pope was, and then he bet on himself by going to SLCC, and now he’s at BYU.
In Johnson’s first two years at BYU, he didn’t start in a single game. Then in his first career start at BYU, after 937 days without being in a team’s starting lineup, he hits a game-winner. It’s a great story about patience and continuing to work for everything you get.
Dallin Hall closes out the game
In the first game of his collegiate career after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dallin Hall got the chance to play in the final minutes and close out the game. Helping BYU secure a victory.
The former Fremont High star dished out four assists with his four points in 18 minutes of action. Maybe the most important stat is that he had zero turnovers. There’s a reason Cleveland Cavalier and former Jazzman Donovan Mitchell once called Hall a “hooper.” He’s got natural instincts for the game.
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) November 8, 2022
In the postgame, BYU coach Mark Pope noted that who closes out games could change on a nightly basis. This season in many ways, is all about building toward the Big 12. Hall is showing flashes that he will be a significant piece when that Big 12 era begins next year.
Live and die by the three
This roster is built on shooting the three. When the shots aren’t falling, anyone on the schedule could give BYU a run for their money this season. Shooting 3-of-16 will not beat many teams, especially San Diego State, USC, and Creighton on the rest of the non-conference slate.
The absence of “the shot doctor” Trevin Knell is sorely missed for BYU. Knell is a veteran that has no worries about rising up and knocking down shots. Unfortunately, he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery in the off-season.
One of the beneficiaries of Knell’s assistance, since he’s been injured, is Trey Stewart. Stewart knocked down 50% of his three-point attempts in practices leading up to the season. He and other young guys can’t hesitate to fire up threes if the opportunity exists. Unfortunately, it felt like BYU hesitated on some of their looks, resulting in many misses.
Fousseyni Traore on the glass is ‘exceptionnel’
BYU basketball sophomore Fousseyni Traore speaks fluent French. In his postgame press conference with the media, Mark Pope told the press that the second-year star was going to the entire presser in french. He was kidding. But after a basic Google Translate search, Fousseyni Traore on the offensive glass is “exceptionnel.” Which is French for outstanding.
CLUTCH free throws by Fouss!
— Matthew Baiamonte (@baiamontematt) November 8, 2022
Here’s another one, “où serais-tu sans Fouss.” The English translation, “where would BYU be without Fouss?” They would be a winless team with a shocking loss to a Big Sky team, if they didn’t have him.
In the second half, when BYU was trailing and needing a comeback, Traore came up with six offensive boards against a long Idaho State team that featured former BYU basketball big man Kolby Lee. Traore, short on words but big on his game, ended up with 15 points and 11 rebounds to tip off his second year in Provo.
Monday games are always weird for BYU basketball
Pope made a good point in the postgame; you won’t find many teams opening a season with a day off before their opener. That was the case for BYU.
With Election Day being a night that the NCAA wants teams to avoid playing, opening night in college hoops fell on a Monday. For BYU, they didn’t have a practice the day before the game because of their Sunday policy.
There was an entire off-season to get ready for the game. BYU is now 4-2 in Monday games in the Pope tenure. It will be interesting to see how many Monday games they land as a Big 12 member in the future because Big Monday is a big piece to Big 12 hoops with ESPN.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
BYU Cougars Scoreboard
BYU Cougars Team Leaders
BYU Cougars Standings