Key Takeaways From BYU Basketball’s Victory Over Texas

Jan 27, 2024, 6:13 PM | Updated: Jan 29, 2024, 5:28 pm

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball took down the Texas Longhorns 84-72 in Big 12 action.

It was a victory that put BYU back in the win column, ending a two-game losing streak.

Here are the key takeaways from the game.

Fousseyni Traore had his best performance since nonconference play

Junior forward Fousseyni Traore has been dealing with a hamstring injury since November. When Traore suffered the injury on Black Friday against NC State, it’s been a slow, day-to-day process to get him back to full strength.

On Saturday afternoon against Texas, the 6-foot-6 big man had his best performance since nonconference action.

Traore finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.

One of Traore’s two blocks led to a Richie Saunders three-pointer that sent the sold-out Marriott Center into a frenzy.

Traore was 6-of-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. He put up those numbers in 17 minutes of action.

“I thought he was good and super deliberate. He brought a real physicality to the game,” said BYU coach Mark Pope.

Having a healthy Traore gives a strong presence in the post to match up against bigger teams in Big 12 play.

BYU basketball won a game without firing off 30+ threes

Typically, BYU has a set mandate of firing off 30 or more three-pointers in a game.

They didn’t need that against Texas, as they only attempted 17 threes.

BYU finished the game 7-of-17 from three.

Instead, BYU attacked the paint. The Cougars finished with 40 points in the painted area compared to Texas, who had 26.

“That’s a credit to Texas,” said Mark Pope. “They had a game plan that they were really committed to and they said, ‘We’re not going to let you beat us the way that you want to beat us.'”

It should be a confidence boost for BYU that they were able to win a Big 12 game without 10+ threes in a game. Sometimes you will have to win a matchup in the paint or on defense.

BYU’s defense shined in the second half

The starting five for Texas was on fire from three in the opening minutes. They knocked down their first four three-point attempts.

During the first half, Texas shot 55.6% from three and 51.5% from the field.

Then BYU’s defense tightened up.

Texas, in the second half, shot 23.1% from beyond the arc and 35.7% from the field.

BYU took care of business on the defensive glass, doubling the Longhorns 24-12.

The Cougars defense also limited prolific scorer Max Abmas to 12 points and 4-of-12 from the field.

BYU is tough to beat when Noah Waterman and Jaxson Robinson are hitting their shots

Between Noah Waterman and Jaxson Robinson, the two starters combined for 34 points on 22 field goal attempts between them.

If BYU gets anywhere close to that level of production on a nightly basis from these two, they will be in a position to climb the Big 12 standings.

Whenever Waterman delivers, BYU is tough to beat.

In the last three games Waterman has played, he’s scored 17 or more points in all three. BYU is 2-1 in those games. The lone loss was against Houston, where Waterman knocked down a clutch three with two minutes remaining to tie the ball game.

Robinson had his best shooting performance since his career-high 28 points against Denver on December 13 when he knocked down eight threes.

Turnovers are an area that needs to improve

One of the areas that needs improvement for BYU coming out of Saturday’s win is turnovers.

BYU finished with 16 turnovers and had 16 assists. Aly Khalifa accounted for eight of those assists.

It’s a stat that can be an afterthought when you’re hovering around 70% from the field. But in games where the shooting goes cold, valuing possessions has to be at the top of mind.

Seven of BYU’s eight players who logged minutes against Texas had at least one turnovers. The only player that didn’t have a turnover was Richie Saunders.

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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Key Takeaways From BYU Basketball’s Victory Over Texas