Brigham Young Cougars vs. Denver Pioneers Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 13th 2023

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With its first defeat of the season now behind the team, No. 18 BYU will try to get back on track with its debut in the Big 12 Conference looming early next month.

The Cougars (8-1) will host Denver on Wednesday night at Provo, Utah, four days after they were upended 73-69 on the road against in-state rival Utah. Jaxson Robinson had 17 points off the bench for BYU, while Spencer Johnson had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Facing a 16-point deficit early in the second half, the Cougars pulled to 71-69 on a 3-pointer by Richie Saunders with 41 seconds remaining. But a turnover by Dallin Hall with just seconds left ended BUY’s chance at victory.

A season-low 36.6-pecent shooting from the field proved too much for the Cougars to overcome.

“I am proud of my guys in the parts of the game where we could find the space to be us,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “I have more confidence than ever that we have a chance to grow into a really good team.”

Counting Wednesday’s contest, the Cougars have four games remaining before Big 12 play gets underway Jan. 6 with a home matchup against Cincinnati. A conference game at home against fellow Big 12 newcomer Houston, currently ranked No. 4 in the nation, is scheduled for Jan. 23.

Robinson leads BYU with an average of 16.9 points per game, while Trevin Knell scores 11.9 points and Spencer Johnson adds 11.7 points with 5.7 rebounds.

With a massive Big 12 challenge ahead, after BYU played the last 12 seasons in the West Coast Conference, the Cougars already have challenged themselves with a victory over then-No. 17 San Diego State, as well as wins against Arizona State and North Carolina State in the Vegas Showdown last month.

Denver (6-4) is playing a ranked team for the second consecutive game after falling 90-80 at then-No. 13 Colorado State on Wednesday. Tommy Bruner scored 28 points for the Pioneers. He hit 8 of 22 shots from the field, including 4 of 9 from 3-point range. DeAndre Craig had 16 points.

Bruner, who had eight assists Wednesday, has at least 14 points in every game this season to average 24 for the campaign. He has at least 20 points in six games, including a season-best 33 against Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Nov. 16.

The Pioneers had a 39-35 lead at halftime against the Rams and trailed just 69-66 with 6:44 remaining before Colorado State took control with a quick 7-0 run.

Despite the defeat, the performance gave Denver plenty of confidence as it tries to get past a ranked team for the first time since 1971.

“I am scoring a lot of points, but I’m gonna get my guys into it,” Bruner said, according to the DU Clarion. “All of my guys can really shoot it well. The thing that has impressed me the most through practices has been our camaraderie. … We fight together as a team, not 15 individuals.”

BYU has won both meetings against Denver, most recently an easy 81-58 victory at Denver in December 1999.

–Field Level Media

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