No. 18 BYU Seeks First Big 12 Win At New $212 Million Home Of No. 14 Baylor
Jan 8, 2024, 11:57 PM | Updated: Jan 9, 2024, 12:08 am
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
WACO, Texas – BYU/Baylor will be the matchup for the first-ever Big 12 game at the new $212 million Foster Pavilion.
No. 14 Baylor (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) opened the 7,500-seat venue last week in a win over Cornell. Tuesday night will play host to a Top 25 showdown of two high-powered offenses.
“It definitely has different lighting than the Ferrell [Center],” said Baylor’s Langston Love on Foster Pavilion. “I feel like the rims are more lit up, so you can lock in on it more. So yeah, I really liked how they structured that gym. And it’s really in our favor.”
More lit-up rims? That should be music to the ears of both BYU and Baylor. BYU comes into the matchup as the nation’s No. 1 team for made three-pointers (12.9). Baylor boasts the top three-point percentage in the nation at 43.2% despite an uncharacteristic 2-of-15 from beyond the arc in an overtime win over Oklahoma State.
No. 18 BYU (12-2, 0-1 Big 12) continues to knock down a high number of threes but, like Baylor, had a recent uncharacteristic performance from three.
In Saturday’s loss to Cincinnati, BYU attempted 46 threes and only hit 13. If you dig deeper into the numbers, one player for BYU, Trevin Knell, hit nine of the 13.
BYU isn’t shy about attempting threes. It’s part of their identity. But they have to knock down a better percentage to keep up with the high-powered Bears attack.
“Both of us are two of the best offenses in the country,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “We didn’t shoot it well the last game. They didn’t shoot it well in their last game. So laws of averages, both of us won’t have two bad shooting games. But I think again, credit the Big 12 defenses for that and things get a little harder in the Big 12.”
— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) January 3, 2024
The atmosphere should be electric in Foster Pavilion. Despite being one of the smaller arenas in the Big 12, it’s a far bigger stage than most of the venues BYU played in for the past 11 years in its old league home, the WCC. The biggest road venue in the WCC was Gonzaga’s McCarthey Athletic Center at 6,000 seats. That was the exception.
BYU is inviting the opportunity to face bigger crowds and more hostile environments in their new league home.
“There are incredible venues [in this league],” said Mark Pope. “Phog Allen, Lubbock, Hilton [Coliseum], Morgantown, and I mean, kind of going down the list, it’s so great. …So, I don’t think it’s going to catch anybody off guard. But I think it’s gonna be super fun. It doesn’t matter if you’re home or on the road playing in a great college venue. It’s what you dream of as a kid.
“As much as we want to make this a business and all the other stuff we want to throw at it, this is a bunch of kids that are getting to live out their dreams in real-time in front of the whole world. So walking into these venues is super special and you feel the juice. It’s what you dream about your whole life.”
BYU vs. Baylor: How To Watch, Listen
Location: Foster Pavilion
City: Waco, Texas
Tip-Off: 7 p.m. (MT)/8 p.m. (CT)
TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
BYU/Baylor: Series History on the Hardwood
Tuesday night’s matchup is the 11th meeting all-time between the two programs. They last met in the semifinals of the NIT in 2013 at Madison Square Garden. Baylor won that game 76-70. They also met earlier that season in December 2012 in Waco on the backend of a home-and-home series. Baylor came away with a victory in that one as well.
The 2011 meeting in Provo was a classic game that saw No. 6 Baylor roll into the Marriott Center for the first time since 1979. Matt Carlino made his debut as a Cougar, but Perry Jones and the Bears squeaked out an 86-83 victory.
BYU’s last win in the series was in 1979. All five of BYU’s victories have come in Provo.
The two Big 12 foes will meet again in Provo on February 20.
What you need to know about No. 18 BYU basketball
How much did the loss to Cincinnati rattle the confidence of BYU? No one expected the Bearcats to roll into Provo and take down BYU, who was blowing out everyone who stepped foot into the Marriott Center.
Now they take on the role of an underdog against Baylor.
a warm welcome in Waco tonight pic.twitter.com/w99OgksBSV
— BYU Men's Basketball (@BYUMBB) January 9, 2024
Leading scorer Jaxson Robinson has earned NBA draft buzz for his play during nonconference, but in his Big 12 debut, he struggled. Robinson produced a team-low minus-19 in plus/minus and hit only two of his seven field goal attempts for five points.
He’s one of the few players on BYU’s roster that can take the ball off the bounce and create a shot.
Three-point shooting has been a significant piece of BYU’s identity this season. However, it also includes taking care of the basketball. Against Cincinnati, BYU committed 18 turnovers.
Starting point guard Dallin Hall had two of those turnovers. The sophomore ballhandler is BYU’s top option at the point and one of the team’s leaders. Like many, he had an off shooting night against Cincinnati, going 2-of-12 from three.
One player who comes into Waco, shooting the ball at a high clip, is Trevin Knell. The junior guard knocked down a career-high nine threes, scoring 27 points against the Bearcats.
Fousseyni Traore returned to action last Saturday in a reserve role off the bench. Traore only played eight minutes and it was clear that he was nowhere near 100% with his hamstring injury.
Center Aly Khalifa continues to lead the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 8.00, despite a three-turnover performance against Cincy. Part of the reason for the struggles for Khalifa was the fact that he was dealing with a fever that had him on bedrest leading up to that game. We will see if he’s back to full strength against Baylor, which boasts one of the nation’s top big men, Yves Missi.
BYU is currently on a six-game road-game losing streak that dates back to last season. The last road win for BYU was on January 7, 2023, against San Diego. BYU’s last road win over a Top 25 opponent was in 2020 against No. 18 San Diego State.
Getting to know the Baylor Bears
Baylor boasts the nation’s best record in the last five years in games played against AP Top 25 teams. The Bears are 27-12 in that stretch.
Baylor is led by a pair of freshmen who could be potential NBA lottery picks next June in guard Ja’Kobe Walter and center Yvess Missi. Walter leads Baylor in scoring at 15.3 per game, while the 7-foot Missi leads the way in rebounds at 6.7.
A Top-25 matchup to open conference play at Foster Pavilion 🙌
— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) January 8, 2024
They also have veteran guard RayJ Dennis in the backcourt. Dennis transferred to Baylor after stops at Boise State and Toledo. The former BSU Bronco faced BYU during the 2020-21 COVID season.
The Bears boast the nation’s seventh-ranked scoring offense at 88.1 points per game.
In their last game against Oklahoma State, Baylor won 75-70 in overtime. Despite only hitting two three-pointers, the Bears outrebounded the Pokes 40 to 31.
Baylor has former BYU forward Caleb Lohner coming off their bench. Lohner is in his second season with the Bears, he’s averaging three points in 12 minutes of action per game.
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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