No. 12 BYU Prepares For Battle On Glass In Big 12 Opener Against Cincinnati

Jan 6, 2024, 1:07 AM

BYU Basketball, Cincinnati, Game Preview...

BYU basketball gets set to host the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Big 12 opener. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – The long-awaited Big 12 season is here for BYU basketball. Everyone nationally is wondering, is this BYU team for real?

It’s time to find out as BYU welcomes 11-2 Cincinnati into the Marriott Center on Saturday night.

Cincinnati is making its first-ever trip to Provo. Saturday will be the fourth meeting all-time between the two schools with Cincinnati holding a 2-1 series lead dating back to 1931.

First meeting since 2001

The Big 12 lid-lifter for both programs serves as the first meeting on the hardwood since a first-round matchup in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati won that game in San Diego behind hot-shooting from Bearcat great Steve Logan.

This year’s BYU team can relate to hot shooting.

BYU comes into the matchup as the nation’s one three-point shooting team, hitting 12.8 threes per game. Cincinnati coach Wes Miller called BYU the best shooting team in the country in his weekly preview of the game.

BYU/Cincinnati will be won on the glass

But this matchup looks to be defined by rebounds.

BYU boasts the nation’s No. 1 rebound margin, outrebounding teams by 13.8 boards. Cincinnati isn’t far off that mark at 13.6 rebounding margin, good for second nationally.

“I was talking to one of our assistant coaches and I said, this game is going to come down to who is going to rebound the ball,” said BYU center Aly Khalifa to KSL Sports. “Whoever is going to win this rebounding battle is gonna win the game.”

Both teams have reached the top of the rebound stats despite never having their full collection of big men at the same time.

BYU has been without Fousseyni Traore for the past six weeks due to a hamstring injury. Traore has been a full participant in practice this week.

Cincinnati’s Aziz Bandaogo returned to practice

For Cincinnati, they didn’t get Utah Valley transfer Aziz Bandaogo cleared by the NCAA until the fifth game of the season. The 7-footer who helped lead Utah Valley to a victory over BYU last year in Provo is a difference-maker in the frontcourt for the Bearcats.

Bandaogo is averaging 9.2 points and 9.0 rebounds for Cincinnati. However, he’s missed the last three games due to a back injury.

Like Traore, Bandaogo has been practicing this week in advance of the Big 12 opener for both teams.

“Aziz is so long and he’s so vertical. He’s one of the elite shot blockers in the country and he’s an elite-level rebounder. He’s super mobile for his size,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “…He’s been out because of the waiver situation and then in and had a little bit of a back issue. But when he’s full go consistently for them, he’ll be a massive impact player for Cincinnati.”

Saturday will be the only regular season meeting in Big 12 play between the two programs.

BYU vs. Cincinnati: How To Watch, Listen

Location: Marriott Center

City: Provo, Utah

Tip-Off: 8 p.m. (MT)


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.)

What you need to know about No. 12 BYU basketball

If BYU can take down Cincinnati, it would give head coach Mark Pope his 100th victory at BYU.

BYU is off to its best start to a season since 1987-88. In that year, BYU started 17-0.

BYU is a hot topic team around college basketball entering Big 12 play. BYU’s stats are off-the-charts efficient right now. They are No. 1 nationally in scoring margin at 28.8 per game.

BYU is fourth in the nation and first in the Big 12 in scoring offense at 90.4 points. But the defense might be the bigger story as they are a top-10 group in adjusted efficiency on that end of the floor.

The Cougars leading scorer is Jaxson Robinson, who continues to receive NBA draft buzz. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony placed the 6-foot-7 Robinson as the 38th-best overall prospect in the 2024 draft class.

BYU hasn’t had many close games this season. In fact, only three of BYU’s games in nonconference action were decided by single digits. BYU was 2-1 in those games, the lone loss coming at rival Utah.

Getting to know the Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati’s three games away from their home venue of Fifth Third Arena have produced a record of 1-2. The one victory was an overtime win against Howard.

Cincinnati is averaging 82.1 points per game and is shooting 35.1% from three-point range.

The leading scorer for the Bearcats is 6-foot-11 Viktor Lakhin averaging 13.6 points per game.

In the nonconference finale for UC, heralded Temple transfer Jamille Reynolds had his first start for the Bearcats as he continues to earn minutes on the floor after the NCAA removed the two-time transfer rule.

Aziz Bandaogo returned to practice this week after being sidelined by a back injury.

BYU/Cincinnati Fast Facts


Overall record: 12-1

Big 12 record: 0-0

NET: 3

KenPom: 4


Overall record: 11-2

Big 12 record: 0-0

NET: 37

KenPom: 40

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 X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

Take us with you wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

BYU Cougars

Bronco Mendenhall, New Mexico, Former BYU Coach...

Mitch Harper

Former BYU Coach Bronco Mendenhall Excited For Next Journey At New Mexico

The former headman at BYU is back in the Mountain West Conference.

17 hours ago

BYU Football, Ben Bywater, Injury Update...

Mitch Harper

Kalani Sitake Provides Injury Update On BYU LB Ben Bywater

Linebacker Ben Bywater is working his way back from an injury he suffered last season.

1 day ago

Jimmer Fredette, BYU Football, Big 12 Media Day, Olympics...

Mitch Harper

Jimmer Fredette Supports BYU Football At Media Day Before Olympics Trip

Jimmer is set to lock in for the Olympic games in Paris.

1 day ago

BYU Football, Kalani Sitake, Big 12 Media Day...

Mitch Harper

Kalani Sitake Boasts Confident Outlook For BYU Football Entering 2024 Season

The ninth year head coach exits Big 12 Media Day with confidence that BYU football will exceed expectations.

2 days ago

Brett Yormark, Big 12, BYU Football...

Mitch Harper

Brett Yormark: BYU Has ‘Embraced Innovation’ As Big 12 Member

Big 12 boss likes what he sees from BYU as a Big 12 member.

2 days ago

BYU Cougars Football Head Coach Kalani Sitake Big 12 Media Days...

Chandler Holt

Head Coach Kalani Sitake Says BYU Football Isn’t ‘Looking For Quick Fix’

Going into his ninth season with the Cougars, BYU Football head coach Kalani Sitake understands that champions aren't made overnight.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

No. 12 BYU Prepares For Battle On Glass In Big 12 Opener Against Cincinnati