Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Bounce-Back Win At San Diego

Jan 7, 2023, 8:19 PM
BYU Basketball, Rudi Williams, Takeaways...
BYU basketball guard Rudi Williams provided a strong spark off the bench in a road win over San Diego. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)
(Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

BYU basketball defeated San Diego 68-48 in their final visit to Jenny Craig Pavilion as a WCC member. The win improves BYU’s record to 13-6 overall and 3-1 through two weeks of West Coast Conference action.

It was a solid bounce-back performance after the loss at Loyola Marymount on Thursday night.

Here are some takeaways from the blowout victory in America’s Finest City.

Suffocating defense

If BYU holds their opponents to 13% from three-point range, they are going to win a lot of games down the stretch. That’s what BYU did on Saturday night against San Diego. Coming into the game, Mark Pope said USD had players one through five that could shoot 40% from distance. That never materialized as the Toreros finished the game 3-of-23 from three.

BYU also had seven steals and three blocks, as they had a plus-10 advantage in points in the paint over USD.

Rudi Williams and Atiki Ally Atiki provide sparks off the bench

BYU’s bench had themselves a night compared to the USD second unit. Led by a career-high 12 points from Atiki Ally Atiki and another 13 from Rudi Williams, BYU’s bench outscored San Diego 29-0. Yeah, that’s correct. Zero points from the second unit for the Toreros.

Triple-A (Atiki) was excellent on Saturday night, shooting 4-of-6 from the field, knocking down all four free throw attempts, grabbing three rebounds, and dishing out two assists. It was another breakthrough performance to show the development and growth of Atiki continues to climb. Also, he’s become a go-to on alley-oops.

After a night where he played a season-low 13 minutes, Williams also put together a bounce-back performance. The senior guard grabbed six rebounds to go along with his 13 points and had three assists.

The four turnovers are still an area that Pope and BYU would like to see go down, but he was playing loose and free, which is how BYU needs him to perform moving forward.

Scoring droughts happen too often for BYU

In the final 6:45 of action in the first half, BYU made only two field goals. However, the cold shooting late in the first half kept San Diego within reach, despite their poor offensive performance in the first 20 minutes.

Against better teams, the opportunities to extend leads from 12 to 20 have to be capitalized on.

BYU had another field goal drought in the second half of five minutes.

Mark Pope’s squad is always good for one or two scoring droughts in a given game. So if BYU can identify consistent production from key players each night, that can help the cause in avoiding droughts. But BYU has shown that they are a team on any given night that someone could be the key guy, and the next night, he’s off.

Must-win for BYU basketball

After a disappointing performance against LMU, BYU basketball needed a bounce-back win at San Diego. The need for a win over the Toreros was magnified as a contest against Gonzaga was on the horizon next Thursday.

Going on the road and picking up a victory is always an accomplishment in any league. Even if it was a road crowd that was primarily pro-BYU, it was a nice victory before the league schedule starts to ramp up for BYU.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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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Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Bounce-Back Win At San Diego