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Injury Updates For BYU Entering Big 12 Opener Against Cincinnati

Jan 5, 2024, 2:19 PM

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball has reached No. 12 in the AP Top 25 despite never having its entire collection of personnel this season.

It highlights the depth of BYU’s roster before their much-anticipated inaugural Big 12 schedule on Saturday night against Cincinnati.

BYU basketball getting close to “full strength”

The good news for BYU is that they are getting close to full strength.

“We’re probably right now, two good practices between now and Saturday. We’ll be as close as we’ve been, and that’s super exciting for us,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope.

Injured forward Fousseyni Traore has been dealing with a hamstring injury since the Black Friday win over NC State.

Last week, Traore returned to the court for the first time since November but it was limited to the first half of practices.

Fousseyni Traore was a full participant in practice this week

This week, Traore was a full participant in practice.

Traore participated in practice on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Wednesday was a scheduled off day.

Pope continues to take it day by day with Traore’s hamstring.

“We’re still dancing with him a little bit,” Pope said. “… I’d like to use him full speed is how I’d like to use him.”

In Traore’s six starts this season, he averaged 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds. Having Traore on the glass would be a big boost for the Cougars against Cincinnati.

BYU is the nation’s number-one rebounding team at a 13.8 margin. Cincinnati is No. 2 nationally at 13.6.

BYU rolled to a 6-1 record with Aly Khalifa anchoring the center spot in relief of Traore.

What could the BYU basketball starting five look like?

So it begs the question of how the starting lineup would look if Traore gets the final approval on Saturday to play against Cincinnati.

Pope said the “long-term vision” is to have Khalifa and Traore on the floor together at the same time. That goal has been one that Pope has wanted to see for months.

At Big 12 Media Day in October, Pope expressed a desire to simultaneously see Khalifa and Traore on the floor. But it hasn’t lined up for BYU.

Khalifa has played through a knee injury he suffered during practices in preparation for the foreign tour trip to Italy and Croatia. Then Traore sustained the hamstring injury as Khalifa worked his way back into action.

There’s also the thought of having Traore come off the bench with BYU’s leading scorer Jaxson Robinson. That would be quite the duo coming off the bench for BYU.

Latest on Dawson Baker

UC Irvine transfer Dawson Baker continues to push through a foot injury. In three game appearances off the bench, Baker displayed smooth playmaking ability, earning him buzz as one of the top players in training camp before the setback.

Pope said Baker’s “recovery has been complicated” and that “he’s far from full speed.”

Baker participated in practice on Thursday. The former All-Big West guard is averaging 6.7 points and 2.0 assists while averaging only 12.7 minutes in three games.

Marcus Adams Jr. is “working really hard”

Heralded freshman Marcus Adams Jr. was one of the beneficiaries of the NCAA’s two-time transfer waiver being placed on a restraining order thanks to a federal judge. The former Kansas and Gonzaga signee made his BYU debut on December 22 against Bellarmine late in the second half of that blowout victory.

He wasn’t available in the nonconference finale against Wyoming.

“[Marcus] is doing great. He’s working really hard,” said Pope. “He’s got a little bit of a knee and a little bit of a foot issue right now that’s trying to deal with, but he’s putting a ton of work in right now, which is great.”

Atiki Ally Atiki continues to play with a broken thumb

One of the players on BYU’s bench who is playing the best ball of his career while dealing with an injury right now is center Atiki Ally Atiki.

For the first time, the 6-foot-10 big man has put together double-digit scoring outputs in back-to-back games entering Big 12 play. Ally Atiki is in his third season with the BYU program.

Throughout the season, back to training camp in October, Ally Atiki has been playing with a wrap on his broken thumb.

After the Wyoming game on December 30, where Ally Atiki scored a career-high 14 points, Mark Pope said in his postgame radio interview with Greg Wrubell that Ally Atiki would have surgery after the season.

Ally Atiki plans to play the remainder of the season with a broken thumb.

No. 12 BYU vs. Cincinnati

Date: Saturday, January 6, 2024

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

TV: ESPN2

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

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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Injury Updates For BYU Entering Big 12 Opener Against Cincinnati