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Takeaways From BYU’s Road Setback Against Kansas State

Feb 24, 2024, 4:33 PM | Updated: Feb 25, 2024, 1:08 pm

BYU basketball got another reminder of how challenging road games can be in the Big 12 Conference. The Cougars lost 84-74 on Saturday to a Kansas State team that had lost seven of its last eight games.

Here are some takeaways from BYU’s 10-point setback that drops them to 19-8 overall and 7-7 in the Big 12.

BYU basketball continues to struggle from three-point range on the road

BYU has hit 10 or more 3-pointers twice in Big 12 road games this season. Saturday against K-State wasn’t one of those days.

BYU knocked down only 19% of its 31 three-point attempts against the Wildcats. In total, BYU was 6-of-31 from beyond the arc.

The two games where BYU hit 10+ threes were at West Virginia and Texas Tech. In both of those games, BYU had double-digit leads. They were 1-1 in those games.

When you analyze BYU and forecast their potential to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, the fear is always going to center around what happens if they can’t hit the three. It’s a valid concern.

When the three-pointers aren’t falling, BYU can be knocked off. But when you shoot 19% from beyond the arc, anyone in college hoops can be taken down.

Atiki Ally Atiki gave BYU some solid minutes off the bench

One of the bright spots for BYU in the loss at Kansas State was the play of Atiki Ally Atiki in the second half.

K-State was beginning to take the game out of reach from BYU. Mark Pope made a lineup change to provide some more athleticism in the frontcourt. So he inserted Atiki Ally Atiki into the lineup.

Atiki had not played in three of the last four games. The third-year junior played 10 minutes and was tied for a team-high plus-minus at plus-two.

Atiki showed patience on the offensive end of the floor and low post moves that he consistently works on in practice. He finished with six points and three rebounds.

Like nearly everyone for BYU on Saturday, there were some lapses from Atiki on the defensive end. But his contributions were solid and he made a case to get more minutes moving forward.

It could be a one-off situation as it was a favorable matchup for Atiki battling in the post against K-State’s Will McNair Jr. We will see heading into the final two weeks of the season.

BYU was aggressive on the offensive glass

BYU finished with 19 offensive rebounds to K-State’s six. The only problem was that BYU was only able to score 14 second-chance points.

But the aggressiveness on the boards is something that can travel away from home as BYU enters the final two weeks of the regular season.

Fousseyni Traore finished with a team-high four offensive rebounds.

Slow starts have been a recent issue

Since the Oklahoma State loss last week, BYU has had an issue with how they start games. Even in the win over Baylor, BYU was down 8-0 in a matter of moments.

On Saturday, in the loss to Kansas State, BYU was down 12-2 in the first three minutes of the game.

K-State ended up being the projected favorite in the game, but they were a reeling squad that had lost seven of its previous eight games. The way BYU started the game was a tone-setter and gave Kansas State the confidence they needed to get a much-needed bounce-back victory.

Arthur Kaluma joins the ranks of guys who always show up against BYU

Kansas State forward Arthur Kaluma scored a career-high 28 points to lead the Wildcats over BYU.

It’s the second time in Kaluma’s career that he has set a career-high for himself against BYU. The previous instance was last season when he scored 27 as a member of the Creighton Bluejays.

“He’s a really talented player,” said BYU coach Mark Pope on Kaluma. “He was great getting at the free throw line tonight and he shot the ball great from the three-point line. He’s really physical and explosive and he can extend the play with Euro steps and extra steps. He’s a terrific player.”

There have always been guys that consistently rise to the occasion against BYU. Baylor’s Jalen Bridges is another from inside the Big 12 Conference.

In the past, UNLV’s Wink Adams was always a thorn in BYU’s side. The same can be said for former New Mexico standout Darrington Hobson.

During the WCC era, San Francisco’s Khalil Shabazz and Pepperdine’s Coleby Ross gave BYU headaches. Kaluma joins the ranks of those guys who always rise to the occasion against BYU.

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 Road Setback Against Kansas State