Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Brigham Young Cougars Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 17th 2024

No. 19 BYU is learning how to finish games as it hits the road to face Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday.

The Cougars (18-6, 6-5 Big 12) weathered late rallies in back-to-back victories over Kansas State and UCF after holding double-digit second-half leads in both games. Surviving UCF’s last-minute comeback proved especially challenging on Tuesday in Provo, Utah.

BYU escaped with a 90-88 victory after the Knights knocked down four 3-pointers and made five baskets overall in the final minute. UCF made 23 baskets and put up 62 points in the second half. The Knights also scored 27 points off 17 turnovers and outscored the Cougars 46-26 in the paint, 19-4 in fastbreak points and 18-6 in second-chance points.

How did BYU survive? By knocking down a school-record 40 free throws on 46 attempts. Jaxson Robinson, who finished with a game-high 21 points, made eight free throws in the final minute to help the Cougars win for the fourth time in five games.

“UCF was heroic in the last four minutes,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “They made incredible shots. That’s Big 12 teams. They just do really special things. I couldn’t be more proud with how our guys responded.”

BYU’s proficiency at the free throw line was a reversal from the Cougars’ 72-66 win over Kansas State last weekend where they shot just 10-for-21 from the stripe.

BYU never trailed but also never put the Knights away despite leading by as many as 19 points early in the second half. UCF proved relentless but the Cougars did not blow their second-half lead as they did in multiple losses earlier in the season.

“That team threw us their best punch and we were able to respond,” BYU guard Trevin Knell said.

Securing a home victory over the Cougars would be a big highlight in an otherwise forgettable season for Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys (10-14, 2-9) are mired in last place in the Big 12 thanks to an inability to win on the road (0-7). They pushed archrival Oklahoma for 40 minutes last weekend but ultimately fell 66-62. Javon Small paced the Cowboys with 17 points and three assists.

Oklahoma State forced eight first-half turnovers against the Sooners and 12 overall. The Cowboys played tough defense to position themselves for an upset. They have forced opponents to commit at least 10 turnovers in five straight games.

“It’s the best we’ve guarded in quite some time,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “It’s been an Achilles’ heel of this particular group. This is a little different for us, considering where we’ve been nationally in terms of defensive ratings. But I thought today we played with some resistance. I think we kept them off balance switching our defenses up a little bit more.”

Upset hopes faltered when Oklahoma State endured a four-minute scoring drought after taking a 56-52 lead with 5:40 left, allowing Oklahoma to go on a game-clinching 9-0 run.

The teams are scheduled to meet again in the Big 12 regular season finale in Provo on March 9.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping