Rick Pitino Gives Mark Pope Praise After BYU Defeats Baylor

Feb 21, 2024, 2:14 AM | Updated: 10:48 am

PROVO, Utah – Legendary basketball coach Rick Pitino was impressed with BYU defeating No. 11 Baylor on Tuesday.

The current St. John’s basketball headman saw one of his former players get a big win.

BYU head coach Mark Pope played for Pitino when he was in Lexington. Pope was part of the Kentucky Wildcats program from 1993 to 1996.

After BYU’s 78-71 win over Baylor, Pitino praised his former player on X.

“So proud n [sic] happy for BYU coach [Mark Pope] with his great win vs 11th ranked Baylor,” wrote Pitino on X. “Our captain of one of the greatest college teams ever assembled – 1996 Champions!!! We love you Mark, so happy for you!!”

Mark Pope reacted to the message from Rick Pitino

Pope reacted to that post from his former head coach during his postgame radio conversation with Greg Wrubell and Mark Durrant on the BYU Sports Network heard on KSL NewsRadio.

“I almost got teary. It’s probably impossible to explain to anybody how much I love Coach Pitino,” said Pope to the BYU Sports Network after BYU’s win over Baylor. “He changed my life forever. He doesn’t throw out kind words lightly. It means the world to me. He’s been so gracious and wonderful to me. I just love him man. I think it’s hard to understand that relationship unless you’ve kind of been through that fire with him. But I just dearly love him and I’m really grateful for those kind words [from him].”

After Tuesday’s win over Baylor, BYU is 19-7 overall and 7-6 in Big 12 play. They return to action on Saturday when they travel to take on Kansas State in Manhattan.

Pitino’s St. John’s team is 14-12 and currently outside NCAA Tournament projections. The Red Storm take on Georgetown on Wednesday night.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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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Rick Pitino Gives Mark Pope Praise After BYU Defeats Baylor