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Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Exhibition Win Over Life Pacific

Nov 1, 2023, 8:57 PM

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BYU basketball guard Spencer Johnson scored 18 points as BYU defeated Life Pacific in an exhibition. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball defeated Life Pacific on Wednesday night, 83-55. It was the lone public exhibition outing for BYU this season before they tip off the 2023-24 campaign on Monday against Houston Christian.

Here are some of the takeaways from BYU’s victory.

Incomplete feel on this team without Hall, Baker

Guards Dallin Hall and Dawson Baker will be top performers on this BYU team. Coming out of Wednesday’s exhibition win over Life Pacific, it’s hard to get a true feel for what this team could look like beginning Monday night.

Both players were sidelined with injuries. Hall is listed as “day-to-day” and could play in the season opener against Houston Christian. The timeline for Baker’s return is unknown.

BYU’s starting five in the exhibition win

In BYU’s lone public exhibition, they rolled out a starting five that consisted of Trey Stewart, Spencer Johnson, Trevin Knell, Noah Waterman, and Fousseyni Traore.

Spencer Johnson was the player of the game for BYU, finishing with 18 points on 60% shooting from the field. Johnson’s ability to stuff the box score was already in midseason form. The oldest player in college basketball this year had three steals and five assists.

Johnson and Traore seem like safe bets to be in the starting five during the beginning of the non-conference schedule.

It will be interesting to see how Trevin Knell continues to factor into the starting five. For the first time since the 2021 postseason, Knell is healthy and fully recovered from the shoulder injury he dealt with the past two seasons.

Inconsistent three-point shooting continues for BYU basketball

If BYU is going to make a return to the postseason, they have to be a more consistent three-point shooting team. They ended the night shooting 33.3, which is around where they were last year at 34%.

That percentage is in the 30s thanks to the performance from Jaxson Robinson, who knocked down six of his nine threes.

BYU needs to be a team hovering around 40% this season. It’s a tall ask, but this team needs consistency from three.

Noah Waterman had a presence on the glass

Returning forward Noah Waterman has produced a lot of buzz from training camp. He’s a candidate to be one of the most improved players in the program this season.

What was noteworthy from Waterman was his willingness and ability to rebound. The former transfer portal pickup from Detroit grabbed eight rebounds.

BYU is an undersized team this season. It would be a significant boost to BYU’s frontcourt if they get a consistent contribution from Waterman on the glass every night.

Work in progress debut for Aly Khalifa

It will be interesting to see how Charlotte transfer Aly Khalifa fits into a BYU program that aspires to be a high-tempo team. During Khalifa’s time at Charlotte, the 49ers were one of the slowest-paced teams in college basketball.

The knee injury to Khalifa during the summer practices leading up to the foreign tour was a setback. He’s still working his way into game shape and looking to find his role within the BYU attack.

He finished the night with one point and only attempted one field goal, a missed three-pointer. But Khalifa showed his ability to pass the rock; he finished the game with three assists.

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’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Exhibition Win Over Life Pacific