BYU Basketball Questions Answered in Loss at San Francisco

Jan 21, 2023, 9:12 PM
BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Jaxson Robinson...
BYU basketball turned around the 2022-23 season because of "heart-to-heart" talks after a 5-5 start. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)
(Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Brigham Young Cougars basketball falls to .500 in conference play after an 82-74 loss to the San Francisco Dons.

Let’s answer some questions from the Cougars’ fourth WCC loss.

Who was the MVP for BYU basketball?

Rudi Williams had a fantastic game against San Francisco. He was responsible for 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting and he was able to sink 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Williams turned it over just once.

In addition to his scoring, Williams was able to dish a pair of assists and log one block and one steal. The senior transfer has taken full advantage of providing a spark off the bench since being taken out of the starting lineup.

What was something that caught my attention during the game?

After a nice performance against Pepperdine last Saturday, Richie Saunders struggled to find the same success on Thursday against Santa Clara. However, he found his touch again tonight scoring eight points and pulling down three boards—one of which being a highly contested ball that he was able to go up and collect. Getting the young freshman more minutes will greatly benefit him as he looks to see his role expanded next season.

What was the most interesting stat from the game?

We’ll answer this one in two parts.

First, points off turnovers.

It’s been a problem all season, and it was a problem again against San Francisco. Despite turning the ball over two fewer times than the Dons, BYU was outscored in points off turnovers by six, 25-19, in a game it lost by eight.

Next, rebounds.

A big reason BYU was able to win seven in a row was because of its effort on the glass. For one reason or another, the Cougars haven’t been able to rebound the ball at the same clip and it has resulted in losing three of their last four contests. Tonight, BYU was outrebounded 27-26 and pulled down just five offensive rebounds that translated to three second chance points. For BYU to win these sorts of games, it is going to have to rebound the ball better.

When was the game lost for BYU basketball?

To be honest, the answer to this question is probably Thursday. Just how Santa Clara jumped out to a 14-2 lead to start the game, San Francisco led 16-5 after the first 5:16 tonight. The same issues that plagued the Cougars on Thursday were the same issues that dug them into an early deficit tonight.

BYU turned it over four times in the first five minutes while allowing USF to open the game shooting 6-of-8 from the floor. The Cougars have had stretches this year where they were able to make a run to counter poor starts, but that wasn’t the story tonight as the closest BYU ever came after trailing by 11 was cutting the Dons’ lead to five. BYU ended the night without ever holding a lead.

Nate Slack is the producer of Cougar Sports Saturday on KSL NewsRadio. You can find him on Twitter here.

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