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Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Blowout Win Over Morgan State

Nov 18, 2023, 9:32 PM

BYU Basketball, Fousseyni Traore, Morgan State...

BYU basketball forward Fousseyni Traore had an excellent game from the field in a win over Morgan State. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball defeated Morgan State to improve to 4-0 for the first time in two years.

The win closes out BYU’s four-game homestand at the Marriott Center.

BYU leaves the cozy confines of home next week when they play in the Vegas Showdown at the Mandalay Bay against Arizona State on Thanksgiving night.

Here are some takeaways from BYU’s runaway victory against Morgan State.

Fousseyni Traore continues to shine at the five

BYU is trying to find a lineup that allows junior forward Fousseyni Traore to play at the four instead of the five-spot. That hasn’t been possible with Aly Khalifa dealing with an undisclosed injury and coaches not pairing up Traore with Atiki Ally Atiki simultaneously.

So, it’s kept Traore at the five in the early part of the season; as usual, Traore continues to perform at a high level.

What’s been even more impressive this year is that Traore has improved his touch around the basket. Before returning to action at the 7:18 mark of the second half, Traore knocked down 80% of his 10 field goal attempts.

He finished the night 8-of-11 from the field with 17 points and four rebounds.

There were no three-point field goal attempts, as we saw earlier this week against Southeastern Louisiana, but there’s no question Traore has taken steps forward in his offensive game.

Last season, Traore was dealing with a nagging hamstring injury and other setbacks that prevented him from being at 100%. For now, he’s confident in the players around him and he’s embraced his role as a five-man.

Too many turnovers in the first half

After earning rave reviews from head coach Mark Pope for how they took care of the basketball against Southeastern Louisiana, BYU was loose with the rock in the first half against Morgan State.

BYU committed nine turnovers against the Bears, who were the lowest-rated team by KenPom’s metrics on BYU’s remaining schedule.

Maybe it was a lack of energy for the matchup. The crowd was a late-arriving one with little to no juice in the building. It seemed to carry over to how BYU played.

Along with the turnovers, BYU only shot 33% from the field.

Richie Saunders finished with a near-perfect night

If not for a missed three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining in the game, Richie Saunders almost put together a perfect night on the offensive end.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and four assists in BYU’s blowout win over Morgan State.

“Richie is so fantastic,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “…There were moments where we felt like we were on our heels a little bit and they were head down going at us. Then Richie is just able to cause some disruption where they feel like, ‘Oh, we have to manage it.'”

When Saunders signed with BYU in the 2020 recruiting cycle, he was known for his defensive pedigree. That defensive background has carried over to the collegiate level while being a highly efficient performer on the offensive end.

Took care of business

Not every game is going to be at the same level of intensity as a game against San Diego State or what BYU will face in their upcoming Big 12 schedule. Mark Pope probably doesn’t want to hear that, but let’s call it what it:is: BYU was facing an opponent that was severely outmatched.

It wasn’t a glamorous game from BYU, particularly in the first half. But they did what they were supposed to: do, pull away with a big margin of victory.

KenPom’s projected score was by 30 points. They far exceeded that with a 43-point victory and didn’t do anything to take away the momentum gained from the previous three wins.

That’s important as BYU has to stockpile the wins to build a cushion before they enter Big 12 Conference play.

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 Blowout Win Over Morgan State