COUGAR TRACKS

Takeaways From BYU’s Memorable Comeback Win Over Dayton

Nov 25, 2022, 5:38 PM
BYU Basketball, Dayton, Battle 4 Atlantis...
BYU basketball overcame a 23-point deficit to defeat Dayton in the Bahamas. (Elizabeth Weiler, KSL NewsRadio)
(Elizabeth Weiler, KSL NewsRadio)

PROVO, UtahΒ – BYU basketball came back from 23 points down to defeat Dayton, 79-75.

It was an impressive performance for a young BYU team still seeking its identity. They took a big step forward in establishing that identity today with the comeback win. And avoiding a winless trip to the Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Here are some takeaways from the victory.

BYU basketball is going to fight until the end

BYU teams have always been known to battle until the final horn sounds. But for this basketball team, that was somewhat of an unknown because there were so many new faces on this year’s squad.

After a week in the Bahamas, it’s clear this team is flawed, but even if they struggle, they will compete until the bitter end. We saw that against USC in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, but BYU just ran out of time.

On Friday, they probably wouldn’t want to start many games in a 23-point hole, but they didn’t give up against Dayton. Instead, they kept chipping away at the deficit and got contributions from nearly everyone that touched the floor.

Last year’s BYU team, by the end of the year, would have rolled over and been finished after a significant deficit, like 23 points. This group has that fight. They will need it on a nightly basis if they want to win ball games this season.

Jaxson Robinson is trending up

After last week’s win over Nicholls State, I said it was “only a matter of time” before Robinson made his presence felt in some BYU games. He did that on Friday in the comeback win over Dayton.

Robinson finished with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. In addition, the Arkansas transfer knocked down 4-of-6 from three-point range. A 6-foot-7 guard/forward, Robinson poses a lot of potential mismatches for opposing teams, and he’s one of the best shooters on the team.

In the words of Jon Rothstein, buy stock now in Jaxson Robinson. The stock is only going up from here.

An underrated contributor was Richie Saunders

Freshman Richie Saunders had a nice week in the Bahamas. Saunders will primarily be a role player on this year’s team, but when given an opportunity, he contributed in the Butler and Dayton games.

In the comeback win over the Flyers, Saunders had probably his best game in his young BYU career. Saunders played in 26 minutes, had a team-high plus-11 in plus/minus when he was on the floor. He finished with eight points, three assists, and two blocks.

When Saunders signed with BYU out of Wasatch Academy, Mark Pope raved about Saunders’ ability on the defensive end. That has shown itself through the first seven games of the season. Pope is big on his players getting in passing lanes and deflecting passes. Saunders has been pretty good at that.

Won a big game without a top player

Dayton entered the year as a preseason AP Top 25 team. The Flyers had high expectations, and they’ve been a high-level basketball program in recent years. So for this young BYU team to secure this win, it’s a big one.

It becomes even more significant when you realize BYU took down a talented Dayton team without Spencer Johnson. Johnson suffered a knee injury during the loss to Butler on Thursday night.

It’s unclear the timeline of Johnson’s return or the severity of the injury. There will be further testing when BYU returns to Provo after a long flight back from the Bahamas.

But that flight will be more enjoyable, knowing it ended with a victory. Without Johnson and then trailing 32-9, things looked bleak for BYU.

Gideon George stepped into the spotlight to fill the void of clutch shots that Johnson has filled this season. George ended with 21 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals. It was a stat-stuffing night that everyone expected him to provide after an offseason filled with NBA draft workouts.

Cleaned up the turnovers

Going into the halftime locker room trailing 40-24, BYU had already committed eight turnovers. However, after roaring back to complete a 79-75 victory in overtime, BYU finished the game with only 11 turnovers.

If BYU basketball cleans up its issues with turnovers, this team could surprise some of the more formidable opponents on the schedule. That was evident on Friday.

Clean up the turnovers, and maximize possessions with shot attempts; BYU will be in games this year.

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:Β @Mitch_Harper.

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Takeaways From BYU’s Memorable Comeback Win Over Dayton