BYU COUGARS

Takeaways From BYU’s Big 12 Setback Against Oklahoma

Feb 6, 2024, 10:39 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2024, 9:07 am

BYU basketball falls below .500 again in Big 12 Conference play after losing at Oklahoma 82-66.

It was BYU’s first double-digit loss in the league since January 6 against Cincinnati.

Here are some takeaways from the Big 12 setback in Norman.

Hard to win road games when you miss 13 shots near the hoop

The stat of the night had to be BYU’s layups. BYU finished 9-of-22 on shots deemed in the box score as “layups.” Some of those were point-blank range shots. Regardless of what you call them, BYU missed 13 attempts at the hoop. If BYU makes half of those misses, it’s a different ball game.

A big workload was placed on Fousseyni Traore due to Aly Khalifa’s absence, Noah Waterman’s sickness, and the in-game foul troubles for Atiki Ally Atiki. Traore played 29 minutes, but throughout the evening, he looked to be rushed. That resulted in some uncharacteristic misses for Traore near the basket.

Still, Traore finished with a game-high 21 points.

BYU basketball looked tired after a long road trip

BYU has been on the road since Friday. It’s one of the challenges of being in a conference that spans three time zones: you’ll have some long trips.

This was the first instance on the schedule of going from a Saturday road game to a Tuesday tilt away from Provo. BYU looked tired in the second half against Oklahoma and appeared to be a team that was probably ready to get home, rest in their own bed, and turn the page.

Head coach Mark Pope shifted the attention to what Oklahoma did to BYU. The Sooners limited BYU to 36% shooting from the field.

“Always credit the other team. I thought [Oklahoma] had a well thought out approach to what they were going to give us and what they weren’t going to give us,” said Pope after Tuesday’s loss. “…It was one of those really frustrating nights in terms of finishing for us. But that happens and you need to be able to overcome it. We couldn’t quite overcome it tonight.”

BYU has one more Saturday to Tuesday road swing left in Big 12 Conference play. That’s later this month at K-State and Kansas. It will be interesting to see if BYU makes the decision to travel home after the Saturday game.

Another second-half collapse on the road for BYU basketball

It felt like BYU was turning the corner to avoid second-half collapses. The last time it happened was at Texas Tech. BYU was minus-23 in the second half in that loss against the Red Raiders. Since that game, BYU was either even or on the winning side of the second half.

Against Oklahoma, the second-half woes returned. BYU was outscored by 16 points in the final 20 minutes.

Oklahoma shot 59.1% from the field, 44.4% from three and scored on 65% of its possessions.

Sooners star guard Javian McCollum started to get downhill and attacked the hoop along with forward Jalon Moore. Both combined for 26 points in the second half, 12 of which were at the free throw line.

“It just felt like we couldn’t find answers we needed defensively in ball screen defense,” said Pope on the BYU Sports Network radio postgame on KSL NewsRadio. “It was pretty simple, but we just couldn’t find the right personnel package to actually execute it. That was frustrating.

“Honestly, tonight, I felt like probably there was some frustration from the offensive end that was carrying over to the defensive end.”

A reminder of how difficult road games are in the Big 12 Conference

After the highs of rolling into Morgantown with a double-digit victory, BYU experienced a reminder of the roller coaster nature of navigating the Big 12 Conference.

Oklahoma has experienced a similar up-and-down league slate. The Sooners rolled into the conference season in January with only one loss, that was to potential No. 1 seed North Carolina in the Tar Heels backyard of Charlotte.

Once the Sooners reached Big 12 play, they’ve struggled to find wins, losing three of their last four. Now the Sooners are back at 5-5 in the league with momentum.

BYU can get back on track in short order. However, finding wins away from the Marriott Center will be challenging. The two victories BYU has earned on the road were against two of the teams (West Virginia, UCF) that are viewed near the bottom of the league.

The remaining road games in the Big 12 are against legacy conference members who have been navigating this league for decades. Protecting home court will be critical in the final five home games of the season.

BYU basketball guard Dallin Hall loves the challenge that Big 12 play is bringing to him and his teammates on a nightly basis.

“It’s fantastic. I love it. Every night, it’s a battle. You’re playing against the best players in the country on a consistent basis and that’s all you can hope for as a competitor,” said BYU guard Dallin Hall on the competition in the Big 12. “What’s awesome is we’ve got to deal with this frustration [of losing to Oklahoma] tonight. Tomorrow, get fresh again. Then we have just as big of a game on Saturday [against Kansas State]. That’s what’s awesome about this league.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s’ coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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Takeaways From BYU’s Big 12 Setback Against Oklahoma