Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Season Opening Victory Against HCU
Nov 6, 2023, 9:24 PM | Updated: Nov 7, 2023, 10:14 am
PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball defeated Houston Christian on Monday night, 110-63. The win gives BYU a 1-o start to its first year as a Big 12 program.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 7, 2023
My instant takeaways from BYU’s win over the Huskies.
There’s a reason Trevin Knell is called the “Shot Doctor”
The lone carryover from Mark Pope’s first team four years ago is redshirt junior guard Trevin Knell. Knell has navigated various setbacks with his shoulder injuries. Yet, despite the injuries, he looks as good as ever shooting the three.
During Monday night’s season opener, Knell was on the attack to score and find a groove with his shot. It paid off as he knocked down four of his seven three-point attempts.
Knell has one of the purest shots you’ll see in the game. When he finds his rhythm from three, it’s nearly as automatic as a layup for him. And that’s with a Nike Elite ball, which he would prefer shooting with an EVO NXT. But the point remains, Knell provides a much-needed spark to a team that struggled to knock down threes a season ago.
Rise & Fire
BYU basketball attempted 43 three-point field goal attempts in the win. They knocked down 15 of those attempts for a final percentage of 34.9% percent.
That was a single-game record for most three-point field goal attempts in a BYU basketball game.
BYU has to be a team that has its identity tied to the three-point shot. So it was great to see them be aggressive to fire off the three-point attempts early and often.
Hard to gather much from this game
I came away from Monday night feeling like BYU had a tougher test against NAIA LIFE Pacific than what they faced from Houston Christian. The Huskies were overmatched from the beginning of the game.
This game will count in NET rankings later in the year because HCU is a D-1 team, but it had the same feeling as a game against a D-II or NAIA squad.
The true measuring stick for this BYU team is coming up on Friday night against San Diego State.
Spencer Johnson fills up the stat
BYU guard/forward Spencer Johson scored 20 points, dished out seven assists, and grabbed five rebounds in the win. Johnson was the speaker in the pregame speech discussing confidence, fun, and winning with spirit. He showed the spirit and set the tone for his team getting after it on loose balls and attacking the hoop.
He doesn’t garner many headlines but he continues to be a key piece for BYU’s efforts.
First BYU Basketball Starting Five in the Big 12 Era
You probably would have been hard-pressed in the summer to guess BYU’s first-ever starting five to begin the Big 12 era. The first five for BYU was the same as what they played in the exhibition win over LIFE Pacific. At guard, BYU started Trey Stewart and Trevin Knell with Spencer Johnson at the three, then Noah Waterman at four, and Fousseyni Traore at the five.
Obviously, that changes when Dallin Hall is ready to get a big workload for a given game. Then it could change if Dawson Baker returns during non-conference action.
In an era of college basketball where the Transfer Portal runs the sport, BYU started five guys that were in the program last season.
Jaxson Robinson is a great spark off the bench
Staying with the starting five theme, Jaxson Robinson started in 30 games a season ago. But I like what I’ve seen from Robinson in the second unit. He gives BYU an immediate spark plug that can heat up on offense.
The former Texas A&M and Arkansas transfer still finished the game with 20 minutes as BYU rolled to an easy win.
Second half defense could have been better
It’s hard to get nitpicky in a blowout win, but all of these games are about building an identity and momentum for when Big 12 play rolls around in two months.
Houston Christian was close to BYU’s output in the second half finishing with 45 points to BYU’s 54.
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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