Baylor Bears vs. Brigham Young Cougars Pick & Prediction JANUARY 9th 2024

Two of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams will square off when No. 14 Baylor hosts No. 18 BYU in Waco, Texas, on Tuesday.

Both teams will be looking to bounce back from shaky offensive performances in their respective Big 12 openers.

The Cougars (12-2, 0-1 Big 12) found life in their new conference to be as tough as advertised after falling 71-60 to Cincinnati on Saturday. BYU led by as many as 10 points in the first half but were shut down on offense over the game’s final 12 minutes.

One positive development for BYU was the return of Fousseyni Traore after missing all of December with a hamstring injury. Traore only played eight minutes but was a key scorer, rebounder and defender for the Cougars a season ago.

Trevin Knell ended up being the only other bright spot for BYU. Knell scored a career-high 27 points while knocking down a career-best nine 3-pointers. BYU shot an anemic 33 percent from the field and went 13 of 46 from 3-point range after settling for too many rushed and contested shots. The Cougars are shooting 37.1 percent from behind the arc for the season.

BYU scored just three baskets over the final 12 minutes — an unusual drought for a team that averaged 90.4 points per game during nonconference play.

“We probably started pressing a little bit, which is clear, and we probably started becoming a little bit more stagnant and accepting a little bit more uncharacteristic plays out of ourselves instead of really working and trusting ourselves to get a little deeper into the possession,” BYU coach Mark Pope said.

Baylor can sympathize with recent outside shooting struggles, despite entering this week leading the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (43.2).

The Bears (12-2, 1-0) scratched out a 75-70 win in overtime over Oklahoma State on Saturday after going just 2 of 15 from 3-point range. Baylor had made 44.8 percent of its 3-point field goal attempts entering its Big 12 opener.

Crashing the glass and forcing turnovers became the antidote to poor shooting. The Bears grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and finished with a 40-31 edge in total rebounds. They also forced Oklahoma State to commit 12 turnovers.

Baylor also made a concerted effort to attack the rim. It paid off as the Bears outscored the Cowboys 50-36 in the paint.

“I think they did a good job making it hard to shoot 3’s, so we had more paint opportunities,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Then, guys did the right thing. If you’re not making 3’s, get to the rim.”

RayJ Dennis led Baylor’s offense with 18 points and Langston Love chipped in 17 off the bench.

Baylor has dominated the series in recent years. The schools have split 10 all-time meetings, winning five apiece. But the Bears have won three straight against the Cougars dating back to 2011.

BYU is seeking its first win against Baylor since 1979 when the Cougars beat the Bears 100-58 in Provo. Baylor’s lone loss to BYU in Waco came in 1978.

–Field Level Media

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