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Takeaways From BYU’s Win Over Nicholls State

Nov 19, 2022, 10:51 PM
BYU Basketball, Jaxson Robinson...
Nicholls State Colonels Jalen White (21) holds the ball while being defended by BYU’s Jaxson Robinson (2) at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. BYU won 87-73. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)
(Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball defeated Nicholls State in front of an enthusiastic 13,745 fans at the Marriott Center.

The final score was BYU 87, Nicholls State 73.

BYU improves to 3-1 on the season, while Nicholls drops to 0-3.

Here are some takeaways from BYU’s win that saw them pull away in the second half.

BYU basketball proved they can crush an undersized team on the glass

It won’t often happen this year that BYU basketball goes up against a team that is undersized to them. Nicholls, when they have their full collection of personnel, is undersized; they got even smaller without their starting center.

BYU took advantage of the mismatch and dominated the glass. Led by George with 10 rebounds and freshman Richie Saunders with nine, BYU had 54 rebounds to the Colonels’ 31.

Dominating performance on the rebounds that proves they are capable. But at no point this season has BYU appeared overwhelmed in the rebounding department. Even against a team like San Diego State, BYU held its own. It’s been one of the underrated developments this season.

Gideon George is critical to the success of BYU’s offense

Entering Saturday night’s game against Nicholls State, BYU senior Gideon George was only shooting 33% from the field.

Against Nicholls, he was the leading scorer with 15 points, and he was tops in rebounds for BYU with 10. After an offseason where he had NBA workouts, a leap was expected in Geroge’s game on the offensive end. It’s been a slow start, but maybe this performance can get things going for him.

“He’s super important, he’s really important,” BYU coach Mark Pope said on the importance of George to this team’s success. “You look at Gideon, he led us in rebounding and he only had one turnover, which is huge. He made a couple of threes and when he’s right it just makes a huge difference for us, it makes a big difference. Especially when he’s protecting the ball and making plays for other guys.”

If BYU has any hopes of causing damage in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, they will need Gideon George to play his best basketball. He has shown in big games over his BYU career that he can carry a team, whether it’s on the offensive or defensive end. Next week, it has to be in all phases.

Rudi Williams was +1 in the assists-to-turnover ratio

BYU grad transfer guard Rudi Williams has been in the spotlight during the early part of the season due to his turnovers. In Saturday night’s win over Nicholls, Williams scaled back the giveaways and ended up plus-one in the assist-to-turnover department.

After the postgame press conference, BYU coach Mark Pope even gave Williams props for that stat, saying, “Plus-one, baby!”

Williams finished with six assists to five turnovers. It’s still a higher number of turnovers than you’d like to see from the starting point guard, but it was a step in the right direction that he is getting more comfortable in this new role that he has never played in his college career.

BYU expected chippy play from Nicholls State

The second half between BYU and Nicholls got heated in certain stretches. At one point in the game, both benches had to be separated, and a player on each team was charged with a technical.

Rudi Williams noted the chippy play in his opening statement to the media, then was asked what caused that chippy play.

“I feel like that’s just who they were,” said Williams. “They kind of hack at the ball, rake at arms, and stuff like that. Coach [Pope] told us that coming in; he told us don’t look at the ref. If you get smacked across the face, smacked across the body, just keep playing and protect the ball and be strong.”

Anxiously waiting for Jaxson Robinson to have a breakout game

Arkansas transfer Jaxson Robinson is just scratching the surface of what he can become in his BYU career. The 6-foot-7 guard has started in all four games to open BYU’s 2022-23 season, but he has yet to have a game where he lights it up on the offensive end.

When you watch BYU play, you’ll see Robinson make many decisions that might not be measured in a box score or a stat line, yet it shows why Pope and crew inserted him into the starting lineup. Robinson’s potential is potentially the highest of anyone in the program.

He finished 2-of-9 shooting with six points, six rebounds, and three assists.

One thing that stands out about Robinson is that he’s a quiet guy who wants to put his head down and work. After every home game this season, when the Marriott Center is cleared out, Robinson is on the floor getting in extra work.

At some point, that extra work and all the experience he’s gaining will turn into a breakout performance. Ideally, for BYU, it comes next week in the Bahamas in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

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 Mitch and his BYU basketball coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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