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No. 25 BYU Looks For Bounceback At Home Against No. 11 Baylor

Feb 19, 2024, 3:41 PM | Updated: 3:42 pm

BYU/Baylor, Game Preview, Big 12...

No. 25 BYU hosts No. 11 Baylor at the Marriott Center on February 20, 2024. (Mitch Harper, KSL Sports)

(Mitch Harper, KSL Sports)

PROVO, Utah – In the brief moments BYU basketball has faced adversity this season, they have responded quickly.

After a head-scratching wire-to-wire loss to Oklahoma State, BYU will try to pull off a quick bounceback on Tuesday against No. 11 Baylor.

It’s the second meeting this season between BYU (18-7, 6-6 Big 12) and Baylor (19-6, 8-4 Big 12). Like the first matchup in Waco on January 9, an 81-72 Baylor victory, Tuesday night’s meeting in Provo will pair two ranked teams against each other.

Despite the double-digit setback to the Cowboys, BYU stayed inside the AP Top 25 rankings this week at No. 25.

Baylor is making its first trip to Provo since 2011. The Bears escaped with an 86-83 victory over BYU in that meeting behind 28 points from NBA draft pick Perry Jones.

“Going into that game, we heard what a great environment and what great fans BYU had,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew on his memories of the Marriott Center in 2011. “I remember that was an outstanding game; it came down to the last seconds and one of the louder places we’ve played in and have played in, period.”

BYU has won its last three home games. During that stretch, they have averaged 17,005 fans per game at the Marriott Center. They are looking for their first four-game home win streak in league play since 2022. That’s when they were a member of the West Coast Conference.

BYU vs. Baylor: How To Watch, Listen

Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Location: Marriott Center

Tip-Off: 7 p.m. (MT)/8 p.m. (CT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Pregame begins at 6 p.m.)

What you need to know about No. 25 BYU basketball

Defense is the big storyline for BYU basketball entering Tuesday night as they face the Big 12’s second-highest-scoring offense, Baylor (76.4 per game in league play).

After BYU defeated Kansas State on February 10, the Cougars were No. 24 in adjusted defensive ratings on KenPom. Since that victory, they’ve dropped to No. 52.

That’s due to allowing 88 points to UCF and 93 to Oklahoma State, two of the worst offenses in the Big 12 Conference.

“[Oklahoma State] scored 27 points in the first nine minutes of the game. I think we had two stops the entire time,” said BYU coach Mark Pope on the BYU Sports Network postgame heard on KSL NewsRadio. “So we’re gonna have to find a way to have a bigger impact on the defensive end of the floor to start these games.”

BYU starter Trevin Knell points to the defensive side being a significant area of focus moving forward.

“That’s something that we’re going to really hone in on going into next week is that we’ve got to guard without fouling,” said Knell after the Oklahoma State loss. “There are a couple of times where they got to the rim and finished on an and-one. So if we can just limit those and we were right there.”

BYU’s offense continues to produce at a high level. The Cougars are third in the league in scoring offense at 75.8 per game. But the three-point shot isn’t falling as consistently as they grew accustomed to in nonconference.

In five of BYU’s last six Big 12 games, they have knocked down fewer than 10 three-pointers. BYU is looking for its third win at home over a Top 15 team since 2011; if they are going to pull it off, they have to knock down the three-ball.

Fousseyni Traore has been a star for BYU in February. This month, Traore is averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. In the last three games, he’s been providing a lift to BYU’s second unit off the bench.

BYU performed well against Baylor in the first meeting in Waco last month. The Cougars built up a nine-point lead with 17:52 to go in the second half, but the hot shooting cooled off. BYU missed four of their last five three-pointers in that setback.

The meeting with Baylor led to BYU coach Mark Pope being called for a technical foul due to slamming a water bottle on the scorer’s table.

Getting up to speed on the No. 11 Baylor Bears

Baylor enters Tuesday’s Top 25 showdown as winners of five of their last six games. The lone setback was a road defeat at Kansas by three.

Baylor has had this stretch of success despite not having one of their top reserves in Langston Love. Love has missed the last three games due to an injury.

Baylor shooting guard Jayden Nunn has been a star for the Bears in February. The former VCU transfer is the first-ever Baylor Bear to sweep the weekly Big 12 awards by claiming Conference Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week.

Nunn averaged 23.5 points, two rebounds, and two assists last week in victories over Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Like BYU, there’s no question about the potency of Baylor’s offensive attack. The Bears are 4th in adjusted offensive efficiency by KenPom. But defensively, Baylor has had lapses, ranking 75th in defensive efficiency.

Opposing Big 12 teams have shot 35.5% from three against Baylor this year in conference action. The Bears rank 12th out of 14 teams in effective field goal percentage allowed at 53.9%.

Heralded freshman Ja’Kobe Walter continues to lead Baylor in scoring this season at 14.5 points per game. The Bears have six players who are currently averaging 10 points per game.

Baylor is experiencing the uniqueness of Big 12 travel that spans the entire country. The Bears travelled directly from Morgantown, West Virginia on Saturday to Provo, Utah for Tuesday night’s game.

BYU/Baylor Fast Facts

BYU

Overall record: 18-7

Big 12 record: 6-6

NET: 10

KenPom: 16

AP ranking: No. 25

Coaches Poll: No. 21

Baylor

Overall record: 19-6

Big 12 record: 8-4

NET: 11

KenPom: 12

AP ranking: No. 11

Coaches Poll: No. 11

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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No. 25 BYU Looks For Bounceback At Home Against No. 11 Baylor