BYU Basketball Remains Confident Of Bounce Back In NCAA Tournament

Mar 17, 2024, 2:00 AM

PROVO, Utah – The loss BYU basketball suffered in the Big 12 Tournament had a theme.

Many of the BYU players who played in the 81-67 loss to Texas Tech referred to that performance as getting “punked” by the Red Raiders.

They weren’t wrong.

That was a humbling performance for a BYU team that has rarely suffered wire-to-wire losses this season.

The good news for BYU is that it’s easy to turn the page forward with the NCAA Tournament taking place this week.

Next stop for BYU basketball: The NCAA Tournament

BYU is projected to be a 5-seed in many bracketology forecasts. They will find out officially on Sunday where they land in the field of 68. But it will be the first time BYU is in the NCAA Tournament since the 2021 season.

It will be the first time since 2014 that BYU plays on Thursday’s Round of 64 opening. BYU’s last NCAA appearance was during the COVID year in Indianapolis, and before that, it was a First Four bid on Tuesday night in Dayton in 2015.

“It’s the first time for many of these guys to go to the NCAA Tournament, and it’s the first time for me in terms of not playing in a COVID year,” said BYU guard Trevin Knell. “So I think that’s going to be exciting for a lot of guys. We’re fortunate enough to be able to play in the postseason. A lot of teams are losing their conference tournament or going home, and their season is done. But we’re really fortunate to put ourselves in a position to have a great seed.”

Knell isn’t kidding about conference tournaments potentially ending seasons.

The bubble is evaporating as bid thieves emerged from the Pac-12, ACC, and AAC.

For BYU, they aren’t worried about that. Being in the Big 12 Conference and an advanced metrics darling all season has BYU comfortably in the tournament.

“We’re excited to see what [that seed] is on Selection Sunday,” said Knell. “But again, the [Texas Tech loss] was a wake-up call. We’re going to fix some things. And like I said, it’s not going to happen again.”

Where does BYU basketball make fixes?

Where BYU fixes things will be interesting.

BYU hasn’t tinkered much with its starting five. But slow starts have been an issue for BYU in the past few weeks. Do they shake up the starting five?

Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Jaxson Robinson has started six games this season for BYU. But the Cougars were only 3-3 in those games that he started in while Trevin Knell was dealing with a foot injury.

Does Fousseyni Traore go into the starting lineup? That might be another tricky move as starting center Aly Khalifa is instrumental in how BYU operates its offense. BYU basketball coach Mark Pope views Khalifa as one of the primary ballhandlers after point guard Dallin Hall.

“We always bounce back,” Khalifa told KSL Sports after the loss to Texas Tech. We’ve beaten really good teams, and we showed what we got [this season]. I feel like this loss; we’re gonna learn a lot from it. But I think it’s really good for us moving forward in the long term.”

BYU’s most successful starting five

BYU’s starting five of Dallin Hall, Spencer Johnson, Trevin Knell, Noah Waterman, and Aly Khalifa have been its most successful lineup this season. The Cougars are 14-6 this year with that starting lineup.

Plus, it set Jaxson Robinson up for some Big 12 hardware as the Sixth Man of the Year.

But in an NCAA Tournament game, the leash should probably be quick for potential changes if a slow start takes place against what will likely be a double-digit seed team.

“We’ve been humbled and now we go to work,” said BYU reserve Richie Saunders. “We will have lots of film and work on the things we need to. You know, this is what will help us get back out there next Thursday.”

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.

Take us with you wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

BYU Cougars

BYU Football, Transfer Portal, Kalani Sitake...

Mitch Harper

Where BYU Football Can Boost Roster During Spring Transfer Portal Window

Taking a dive into the positions that could use a transfer portal boost on BYU football's roster.

2 hours ago

Dallin Hall, Transfer Portal, BYU Basketball...

Mitch Harper

Dallin Hall Considering Three Local Schools In Transfer Portal

Dallin Hall has a handful of local programs that he is considering in the NCAA Transfer Portal.

6 hours ago

BYU Basketball, Richie Saunders, Transfer Portal...

Mitch Harper

BYU’s Richie Saunders Announces He Will Enter NCAA Transfer Portal

Another BYU basketball player is going portaling.

1 day ago

BYU Women's Basketball, Transfer Portal Commits, Amber Whiting...

Mitch Harper

BYU Women’s Basketball Lands Two Transfer Portal Commits

BYU head coach Amber Whiting is putting together her roster for the 2024-25 season.

1 day ago


Kyle Ireland

Former BYU Standout Kai Nacua Hauls In Interception For Michigan Panthers

Former BYU defensive back Kai Nacua secured an interception for the Michigan Panthers during their Week 3 win over the Houston Roughnecks.

1 day ago

Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, BYU Football, New Mexico...

Mitch Harper

Former BYU QB Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters Finds New Home In Transfer Portal

Former New Mexico Bowl MVP is returning to the Land of Enchantment.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

BYU Basketball Remains Confident Of Bounce Back In NCAA Tournament