BYU Basketball Tips Off 2023-24 Season Against Houston Christian

Nov 6, 2023, 9:58 AM | Updated: 10:43 am

PROVO, UtahΒ – BYU basketball is back in full force tonight as the Cougars get set to host Houston Christian at the Marriott Center.

Tip-off for tonight’s game is at 7 p.m. (MT) on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM).

Tonight begins BYU’s first season as a Big 12 Conference program. BYU looks to improve from last year’s 19-15 record that finished with no postseason appearance.

Mark Pope is back for his fifth season leading the team. The former Kentucky Wildcat is 87-41 overall through four seasons at BYU. He brings back four starters from last year’s team.

BYU’s opponent to begin the 2023-24 season is Houston Christian University, formerly Houston Baptist. The Huskies come into the year as one of the lowest-rated teams in college hoops. Of 363 teams in Division I, Houston Christian is the preseason No. 360 team in the Ken Pomeroy ratings.

BYU vs. Houston Christian: How To Watch, Listen

Location: Marriott Center

Tip-Off: 7 p.m. (MT)/8 p.m. (CT)

TV/Stream: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

What you should know about BYU basketball

One of the big questions entering tonight’s game is the availability of BYU guard Dallin Hall. The sophomore standout missed the exhibition and reportedly was out during the secret scrimmage against the Stanford Cardinal. Hall is currently “day-to-day.”

It could be a situation where BYU plays without Hall tonight to ensure he’s at full strength for Friday’s showdown against nationally ranked San Diego State.

If Hall doesn’t play, BYU could start the game with Trey Stewart. BYU could also go with 6-foot-7 Arkansas transfer Jaxson Robinson, who was the best player in BYU’s foreign tour this summer in Croatia and Northern Italy.

UC Irvine transfer Dawson Baker is also injured and the timeline appears to be farther out than a “day-to-day” situation like Dallin Hall. Baker was an All-Big West second-team selection last season

BYU’s top returning scorer from last season is Fousseyni Traore at 12.9 points. Traore is a preseason Karl Malone Award watchlist player. He’s also the returning leader in rebounds for BYU at 7.8 per game from last year.

BYU wants to be an up-tempo team. Last year, they finished 65th in KenPom’s tempo ratings. But they ideally want to go faster and emerge as one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation.

The three-point shooting struggled a season ago as BYU finished 183rd nationally at 34% per game.

BYU’s top three-point shooters on this year’s roster are Trevin Knell, who returns from a shoulder injury that sidelined him last year. Then Spencer Johnson, who is eighth all-time at BYU in career three-point field goal percentage at 44%.

Get to know the Houston Christian Huskies

Houston Christian University is coming off a 10-22 season, 7-11 record in the Southland Conference a year ago. The Huskies navigated tragedy last year after the tragic passing of their best player, Darius Lee. Lee was hit by a stray bullet at his home in Harlem, New York before the season started.

They continue to play in Lee’s memory, led by head coach Ron Cottrell. Houston Christian has been led by Cottrell since 1990. He’s the second longest-tenured head coach in college basketball. The only coach with a longer tenure than Cottrell is Greg Kampe at Oakland University. Kampe is entering his 40th year this season.

On the floor, HCU is led by preseason SLC First-Team selection Bonke Maring at center. The former UTEP transfer averaged 13.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and shot 59.4% from the field last season.

Maring is 6-foot-10, 240 pounds. He could pose some challenges to BYU’s undersized frontcourt.

HCU boasted a top-50 offense last season, averaging 77.6 points per game. But their offense struggled against Big 12 teams last year, scoring only 31 against Texas and 67 against Texas Tech.

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

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BYU Basketball Tips Off 2023-24 Season Against Houston Christian