Too Many Threes? Cold-Shooting Sinks BYU Against Cincinnati

Jan 7, 2024, 12:39 AM | Updated: 12:42 am

BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Cincinnati Game...

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope shouts instructions in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – No. 12 BYU basketball dropped its Big 12 debut Saturday night to Cincinnati.

Cincinnati escaped Provo with a double-digit victory over BYU, 71-60.

The Cougars had momentum early in the second half with a 10-point lead behind hot shooting from Trevin Knell. Knell was up to nine three-pointers made, knocking on the door of making BYU basketball history.

The record for most made threes in a game is ten by Chase Fischer from a Maui Invitational game in 2014.

Knell was up to nine makes with 11 minutes left in the game. But then Knell left the game at the 10:23 mark.

BYU basketball attempted 46 threes in the loss to Cincinnati

The momentum and the hot shooting from BYU’s high-powered offensive attack went to the bench with him. BYU made only three field goals for the remainder of the half.

During that final 10:23, they missed 11 threes. On the night, BYU attempted 46 threes and only made 13.

Throughout this season, BYU has emphasized shooting at least 30 threes per night. It’s a mandate from BYU’s staff to the team to fire off that many threes. That’s why BYU entered the game as the nation’s number-one three-point shooting team.

Cincinnati coach Wes Miller came away still praising how far BYU has come as a program under Mark Pope and continued to refer to them as the best shooting team in the nation.

Was 46 too many attempts in one game? Mark Pope was OK with the volume of threes attempted.

“I would take 46,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “The disappointing side is we missed 33 of them. And we were really unsuccessful on the offensive glass. That’s a real problem for us. I felt like we got distracted from that in the second half. I felt like we kind of found ourselves a little frustrated, a little searching, a little reduction in energy in the second half. That’s where we have made that right.”

Trevin Knell finished the night with nine made three-pointers

Besides Knell, who finished 9-of-14 from beyond the arc, the rest of the BYU team was 4-of-32 from three.

“I do think there was some space from the three-point line where we were kind of settling for fatigued 40-footers,” Pope said. “That actually might be a little bit out of our range.”

Knell sat out for a stretch of 5:50 of game action. Cincinnati built their lead from two to eight. BYU scored only two minutes while he was out.

Cincinnati freshman Jizzle James gave the Bearcats valuable minutes off the bench scoring 12 points. Then former UVU star Aziz Bandaogo, who was questionable to play due to a back injury, began taking over the game. He finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and another victory in Provo, his second in as many tries.

When Knell returned, he missed two free throws with 4:19 left and the hot shooting was gone.

Pope discussed the thought process behind taking Knell out when he did after a blistering hot shooting performance.

“Trev is playing such great basketball on both ends of the floor. It was really terrific,” said Pope. “We’re trying to keep fresh bodies out there the best we can and try to maintain some massive integrity with some of the matchups that we liked. But he was terrific tonight. I thought he was fantastic.”

Issues beyond shooting for BYU

BYU’s issues on Saturday went beyond shooting. The team’s health stood out again as Aly Khalifa was on bed rest for the past two days due to a fever. Fousseyni Traore returned after six weeks due to a hamstring injury, but he wasn’t close to his usual self.

Then Dawson Baker only played three minutes in the second half while dealing with a nagging foot injury.

It was a reminder of what Oklahoma’s Porter Moser said at Big 12 Media Day, “you’re one rolled ankle in this league from being at the top, down to the bottom.”

There’s still a way to go for BYU on the health front to get back to full strength.

BYU can’t be down for long as the gauntlet of the Big 12 only heats up.

BYU heads out on the road for a pair of games next week, starting with a trip to the $212 million Foster Pavilion in Waco to face nationally-ranked Baylor.

Then it’s to the East Coast to face UCF next Saturday.

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.

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Too Many Threes? Cold-Shooting Sinks BYU Against Cincinnati