No. 20 BYU Closes Regular Season With ‘Payback Game’ Against Oklahoma State

Mar 8, 2024, 2:14 PM

BYU/Oklahoma State, Game Preview, Dallin Hall...

No. 20 BYU hosts Oklahoma State to close out the regular season. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball has reached the finish line of its inaugural season in the Big 12. The 20th-ranked Cougars close out the regular season on Saturday night against Oklahoma State.

Three BYU seniors will be honored, which naturally causes high emotions. But the intensity ratches up for Oklahoma State.

On February 17 in Stillwater, BYU had one of its worst performances of the season, falling to the Pokes 93-83. For senior Spencer Johnson, who has no more eligibility after this season, facing 12-18 Oklahoma State has more significance than being his final opportunity to play in the Marriott Center.

“It’s definitely a payback game for us,” said BYU guard Spencer Johnson. We went and dropped one at their place, so they’re coming in, and it’s just a payback game. They have one coming.

“As long as we do the things that make us successful—when we don’t turn the ball over, we hit our free throws, or we hit shots where we play really aggressively and confidently—it should take care of itself.”

BYU vs. Oklahoma State: How To Watch, Listen

Date: Saturday, March 9, 2024

Location: Marriott Center

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

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

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

What you need to know about No. 20 BYU basketball

BYU enters Saturday night’s regular season finale with a 21-9 overall record and 9-8 in Big 12 play. After losing at Iowa State on Wednesday, a top-four seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament is out of the picture for BYU. But the fifth seed is still attainable.

To clinch the fifth seed, BYU would need to defeat Oklahoma State and then have Kansas lose at Houston on Saturday. For a team picked 13th by the Big 12 coaches, finishing fifth would be quite an accomplishment for BYU in its first season in America’s toughest conference.

A loss could drop BYU down to the 8-seed in next week’s tournament in Kansas City. Also, a loss would give BYU its first blemish in the Quad 3 column. Something you don’t want happening with less than ten days until the Selection Committee reveals the NCAA Tournament bracket.

In BYU’s first meeting against Oklahoma State, they allowed the Cowboys to shoot 50% from three and 66% from inside the arc. Since that game, BYU has only allowed their opponent to score more than 75 points once in the previous five games.

Richie Saunders continues to be an energizer off the bench for BYU. In three of BYU’s last four games, Saunders scored double-figures. In the loss to Iowa State, Saunders tied his career-high of 20 points.

While Saunders has been a critical cog for BYU the past two games, Dallin Hall is the player that makes BYU a threat to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

At Iowa State, Hall had two costly turnovers in the final 90 seconds. For the game, he had three turnovers.

BYU has lost its last four Big 12 games when Hall commits three or more turnovers. BYU is 2-5 during league play when Hall has three or more turnovers. Two or fewer? The Cougars are 7-3.

BYU has placed a significant workload on Hall’s shoulders this season due to the lack of options behind him at point guard. The leaps he’s made from his freshman campaign to this sophomore season make him one of the rising stars in the Big 12 Conference.

Now, it’s the challenge of replicating the performances he had at West Virginia or Kansas on a nightly basis. It’s a tall task, but if he can capture that nightly, BYU could reach great heights in postseason play.

Getting up to speed on the Oklahoma State Cowboys

Since taking down BYU at Gallagher-Iba Arena last month, Oklahoma State has been 1-4 since. They won their game at Cincinnati immediately after the BYU win.

At that moment, Oklahoma State looked like a team trending in the right direction before the conference tournament.

Oklahoma State followed the Cincinnati game with a strong first half against rival Oklahoma in the final “Bedlam” matchup on the hardwood. The Pokes were up by 11 points in the first half, but Oklahoma stormed back, forcing overtime.

Then, in the extra period, Oklahoma hit a game-winner at the buzzer that has since sent Oklahoma State on a downward spiral again.

Oklahoma State then lost to UCF at home, Texas on the road, and a noncompetitive showing against Texas Tech on Senior Day.

In the first matchup, the Cowboys’ guard line of Jamyron Keller and Javon Small were a nightmare for BYU. Keller scored 22 points against BYU in his first career start.

Since that game, Keller has reached double figures in scoring in two of his last five games.

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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No. 20 BYU Closes Regular Season With ‘Payback Game’ Against Oklahoma State