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Takeaways From BYU’s Top 25 Victory Against Iowa State

Jan 16, 2024, 11:41 PM

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball earns its first home league victory as a Big 12 member. On Tuesday night, the 20th-ranked Cougars took down No. 24 Iowa State, 87-72.

BYU’s victory improves BYU to 14-3 on the season and 2-2 in Big 12 play. They jump up from No. 11 to No. 9 in the latest KenPom ratings.

It was another night in the Big 12 Conference. But some nights are more significant than others. For BYU, Tuesday was a big win against one of the nation’s top defenses.

Here are some takeaways from the win.

BYU scores 87 on one of the nation’s best defenses

BYU basketball put up 87 points on the nation’s No. 3 defense coming into the game. The 87 points BYU scored is the most allowed by Iowa State this season.

Iowa State suffocates teams in the paint. That wasn’t an issue for BYU, who doesn’t live in the paint.

“Their only three losses of the season, interestingly, have been their three lowest turnover possession percentage games gains,” BYU head coach Mark Pope. “It’s where the other team has been able not to turn the ball over. So you at least give yourself a chance to compete, so that was really important for us going into the scout.”

BYU only had 11 turnovers on 64 possessions in the win. Taking care of the basketball and having a 27-point edge in three-point shooting were big differences in the game.

Then you add in the fastbreak points where BYU had a 13-point edge (21-8), it was an efficient night for BYU’s offense.

Career-night for Spencer Johnson was critical for shorthanded BYU

Senior guard Spencer Johnson scored a career-high 28 points against Iowa State. It was a critical performance for a BYU team that was without Trevin Knell, who was out with a foot injury.

Johnson stayed within BYU’s game plan to get his 28 points.

“I feel like the way our team is built, we’re missing a key guy that’s a really good shooter,” said Johnson. “But the answer is not to be like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna get more shots.’ The answer is to let the ball find the guy who’s open.”

Johnson’s impact extended beyond scoring as he dished out five assists and grabbed nine rebounds.

Physical ball game that garnered flashbacks to 10 years ago

Any game in the Big 12 Conference is going to be a physical contest. The BYU/Iowa State game represented that.

Despite the limited meetings between the two programs, they have a history of getting chippy with one another.

Iowa State rolled into the Marriott Center ten years ago as a nonconference opponent. In that game, former Cyclone DeAndre Kane poked BYU’s Eric Mika in the eyes.

Fast forward to Tuesday, Richie Saunders took an elbow to the face from Hason Ward while both players were lined up on the block for a free throw attempt.

The physicality in the post was also on display as both teams attacked the glass.

“The Big 12, it’s always going to be a dog fight every game. So it really comes down to being really physical,” said BYU forward Noah Waterman. “There’s always big guys that are all about rebounding. Everybody plays super physical. So we just got to hit them before and go get these rebounds. Because sometimes we’re smaller than these teams. But it’s our effort.”

BYU finished the game outrebounding Iowa State 36-34.

Dallin Hall took a big step forward

Big game on BYU sophomore guard Dallin Hall. He finished with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field, 3-of-3 from three-point range, five rebounds, and an eye-popping eight assists.

BYU coach Mark Pope couldn’t help but praise the performance of his starting point guard.

“Dallin Hall’s numbers might not leap out at you on the page. But that dude took a massive step forward as a point guard today. Massive,” said BYU coach Mark Pope.

Hall’s performance is even more impressive because it was against one of the Big 12’s best guards, Tamin Lipsey.

Also a sophomore, Lipsey finished with nine points, five assists, and four rebounds for the Cyclones.

If Dallin Hall comes close to his performance against Iowa State regularly in the Big 12, BYU has a chance to be in the top five of the conference.

BYU dealt Iowa State a taste of their own medicine on defense

The Cyclones shot 28.6% from three in the loss at BYU. Heralded freshman Milan Momcilovic was limited to 1-of-6 from beyond the arc.

BYU forced Iowa State into 13 turnovers.

Early in the second half, BYU set the tone for the remainder of the game on the defensive end. Iowa State only knocked down two field goals in the first five minutes of the half.

BYU was making every shot challenging for Iowa State.

It proved that BYU’s advanced metric success wasn’t solely a byproduct of a weak nonconference schedule. They can succeed against some of the best teams in the nation.

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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Takeaways From BYU’s Top 25 Victory Against Iowa State