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BYU Basketball Heads To Bahamas For Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament

Nov 20, 2022, 12:45 PM | Updated: 12:46 pm
BYU Basketball, Mark Pope...
BYU basketball head coach Mark Pope looks forward to the "hoops-filled" Thanksgiving at the Battle 4 Atlantis. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)
(Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – The most formidable challenge for BYU basketball to date awaits as they prepare to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. The Battle 4 Atlantis, which takes place in the Bahamas, has emerged over the past decade as one of the top multi-team events in college basketball.

BYU will be making its first-ever appearance in the tournament that began in 2011. The field is loaded with top programs, headlined by the defending National Champion Kansas Jayhawks.

All eight teams in the Battle 4 Atlantis are KenPom Top-100 teams, led by No. 6 Tennessee. Other teams in the field include NC State, Dayton, Wisconsin, and Butler. BYU will open the tournament on Wednesday, November 23, against USC (3 p.m., ESPN2 & KSL NewsRadio).

BYU took off from Salt Lake City International Airport at 11 a.m. (MT) on Sunday, with an expected arrival in Nassau around 6 p.m. (ET). Then the work begins for a tournament that will give BYU three games against three power conference programs in three days.

“We’ll kind of do what we have to do on Sunday. And then Monday, the schedule is pretty tight. We have film sessions and practice and everything trying to prep for USC, plus study hall. The day is pretty full,” said Mark Pope. “Then Tuesday night, we’ll run it back. We have a dinner that night, like a gala. And then it’s game time.”

BYU comes into the tournament with a 3-1 record. All four games have been close contests, as the average scoring margin for BYU through four games is at 3.2 points. But, whether it’s against sub-300 Idaho State or nationally-ranked San Diego State, Mark Pope’s young squad has kept things interesting.

 

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Tight and competitive contests and maybe a few wins would do a world of good for this BYU team that is still piecing together its new up-tempo identity. But it’s also the type of stage that can elevate the profile of athletes.

Battle 4 Atlantis is a big stage for BYU basketball

Battle 4 Atlantis is playing during ESPN’s “Feast Week,” so a national television spotlight awaits. When grad transfer guard Rudi Williams signed with BYU this past spring, these types of opportunities were something that appealed to him.

“It kind of gives you an opportunity to uplift yourself and get seen by the right people,” said Williams. “So when [BYU was] recruiting me, I kind of knew what I was getting myself into in coming here and knew the schedule. So that also intrigued me because I want to play against the best guys and be in the right place where all the better players are.”

Mark Pope’s BYU teams have had strong showings in multi-team events (MTEs). For example, three years ago at the Maui Invitational, Mark Pope’s first BYU team was coming off a heartbreaking loss to Boise State in overtime. But they turned things around in Maui, defeating UCLA, giving No. 1 Kansas all they could handle for a half, and then took down Virginia Tech to earn a third-place finish.

That performance in Maui was the turning point for a BYU squad that rose to No. 9 in the NET rankings. In those three games in three days, the identity was formed for that BYU team. Mark Pope and his BYU program would likely be thrilled with a similar result in the Bahamas, but the fourth-year head coach knows a lot of work will be involved to have that type of performance.

“These things are really fun because we’re looking at the schedule and we don’t exactly know when we’ll play on Thursday, but it doesn’t matter because it’s going to be a 16-hour prep, and then a game. Then we’re going to have 16 more hours to prep for the next game. So it’s going to be a fun hoops-filled Thanksgiving. We’re super grateful for the opportunity.”

BYU vs. USC

2022 Battle 4 Atlantis

Date: Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Tip-off: 3 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN2

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

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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