Takeaways From BYU’s Big 12 Tournament Win Over UCF

Mar 13, 2024, 3:27 PM | Updated: 5:56 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – BYU basketball made an excellent first impression in its debut in the Big 12 Tournament.

The Cougars defeated the UCF Knights 87-72.

BYU’s win moves the Cougars to the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, where they will face the fourth-seed Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Here are some takeaways from BYU’s win over the Knights.

Dallin Hall was a tone-setter for BYU

Dallin Hall scored 13 points, dished out four assists, and grabbed three rebounds for BYU in its win over UCF.

He put up those numbers while dealing with foul trouble in the first half, keeping him sidelined for 10 minutes.

“He does what Dallin Hall does,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “He stepped up and made a couple huge shots. His ball protection under incredible duress was fantastic. I thought he was really special that way. And then sitting most of the first half, for him to come out, he came out right away and just banged another shot to start the second half. He didn’t miss a beat and I thought he was incredible. He and Richie and Fouss really set the tone.”

Hall’s impact on the game was noticeable from the opening tip.

“The challenge for us in a game like this with a team that is so athletic and so physical and so aggressive and made such big shots is as things are starting to get hairy and complicated, do we stay aggressive? And Dallin helped us stay aggressive,” said Pope. “Richie Saunders was a star helping us stay aggressive tonight, and Fouss definitely helped us stay aggressive security-wise, and I thought Dallin was the leader of that push and probably the deciding factor in the game.”

UCF always has a run in them against BYU

The Knights have a knack for putting together runs against BYU. In the last meeting a month ago in Provo, UCF scored 15 points on BYU in 90 seconds.

On Wednesday, UCF put together a run to cut BYU’s game-high lead of 18 points down to three.

UCF guard Darius Johnson was excellent against BYU scoring 32 points. He was one point shy of tying his career-high 33 points.

BYU coach Mark Pope believes the Knights should be a postseason team after this tournament.

“There is no doubt they should be playing somewhere, they are incredible,” said Mark Pope. “It took them a minute to find themselves in the nonconference for sure, but this team is — this is an incredibly well-coached team.”

With the quality of the games between BYU and UCF this season, there may be a rivalry between the two programs in the future.

It bodes well for BYU moving forward in the Big 12 Tournament they they were able to withstand a run from an opponent and not fold under the pressure.

Fousseyni Traore shut down Ibrahima Diallo

In a battle of honorable mention All-Big 12 performers, BYU forward Fousseyni Traore came out on top.

The strength of Traore was a difficult matchup for Diallo, who a day prior had scored 17 points against Oklahoma State.

Traore finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, Diallo finished with zero points and zero rebounds and only one block.

The strength of Traore continues to be a force that Big 12 big men have struggled with this season.

“I look up to him like none other and I don’t show him that enough,” said BYU forward Richie Saunders on Traore. “But Fouss is just — he’s a monster. When you need two points you go to him. When he’s flying up and contesting every shot, I don’t want any other shot-blocker behind me. I love playing with him.”

BYU basketball can win the Big 12 Tournament if they knock down 14 threes in a given game

BYU only had one hour to shoot in the T-Mobile Center before their debut game in the tournament against UCF. The Cougars arrived at the T-Mobile Center at 9:50 a.m. (CT) then began firing off shots at 10:30 a.m. local time.

UCF had an entire game under their belt and was loose entering the matchup, with BYU showing off an NBA Slam Dunk contest-style layup line in pregame.

The lack of feel in the arena didn’t matter to BYU, as they were on fire in pregame warmups. Then it carried over to the game as BYU hit 14 of their 30 three-point attempts to defeat UCF.

If BYU hits 14 threes in each game moving forward, it will be very difficult to beat them.

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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Takeaways From BYU’s Big 12 Tournament Win Over UCF