Along with the win, BYU learned valuable lessons vs. Creighton | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy BYU Photo

BYU’s Jaxson Robinson hangs on the rim after a dunk in a men’s college basketball game against Missouri State at the Marriott Center on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.

The margin between winning and losing in college basketball can be very slim.

Last Saturday against No. 21 Creighton BYU was balanced between frittering away an 11-point lead with just over three minutes to play and celebrating a game-winning shot by freshman Dallin Hall.

The ball falls one way and the Cougars are mired in a three-game losing streak, confidence wavering. The ball goes in (which it did) and suddenly the season is reborn.

“I think it was a gift for us,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “It was really important for us. We still have so much grind to do, clearly. But when you steal some games in the process and win some games and learn while you’re winning, it just goes a long way.”

One of the lessons that needs to be taken from the game was the final three minutes, which included losing that 11-point lead, coughing up six turnovers against the Bluejays frantic press, missing critical free throws and making bad decisions in the process.

“One of the lessons is the urgency to win a catch and then secure the ball,” Pope said. “We actually got a couple of catches where we were just loose with the ball. We talked about that and our space was not great. They were face guarding and we just kept running into it. The first possession we got the pass over the top to Rudi then he turned and the guy jumped in front of him to steal the ball. Then our guys got jittery about making the play that needs to be made. Then it kind of cascaded out there.”

“But our guys were hanging in there. You think about the guys we had on the floor at that point and it’s just complicated for new, young guys, but we’ll do better as we move forward. I was super proud of these guys just being resilient and hanging in there.”

Creighton has stumbled to five straight losses (No. 14 Arizona, No. 2 Texas, Nebraska, BYU was No. 4, then Arizona State on Sunday was No. 5) but will bounce back when 7-foot-1 center Ryan Kalkbrenner returns from illness. BYU’s win vs. The Bluejays will probably be a Quad 1 or 2 victory by the end of the season.

“No matter how the game went, it was just the outcome,” BYU sophomore Jaxson Robinson said. “We needed a win. Just winning that game, especially after the two tough losses we had, it was just getting our confidence back and that was definitely a great win.”

Shoe Game

Junior forward Gideon George is hoping Cougar Nation can lend a big helping hand once again.

The George Helping Hands Foundation along with TIMEOUT4AFRICA, BYU Black Student Union and BYU Global Supply Chain Association will host the Sneakers 4 Africa Shoe Drive this week with bins set up outside the Marriott Center Annex. Collection for Thursday’s game will be from 5 – 7:30 pm Participants are encouraged to bring new or lightly used sports sneakers in all sizes.

scouting report

The Cougars are deep into finals week and have scheduled accordingly with Division II Western Oregon coming to the Marriott Center on Thursday.

The Wolves are based on Monmouth, Ore., about 25 minutes southwest of capital city Salem. Western Oregon is 4-4 this season after dropping a high-scoring 97-92 decision to Cal Poly Humboldt on Tuesday. The Wolves have a capable scorer in 6-6 Cameron Cranston (14 points per game), who had 22 in the loss. He’s aided by 6-4 Clay Yosani (13.6), 6-7 Cameron Benzel (13.0) and 6-10 John Morrill-Keeler (11.1).

Meanwhile, Pope is just hoping his players can push through their finals and focus on the next opponent.

“You guys know about American Heritage, right?” Pope said. “It’s like if you took SEAL training and ranger training, and you smush them together with the first astronauts that went to the moon in their training and then have the Grandmaster Chess Champion of the world. That’s all preschool compared to American Heritage. So guys are on the rocks right now.”

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BYU (6-5) vs. Western Oregon (4-4)

Thursday, 7pm MT

Marriott Center, Provo

TV: BYUtv

Radio: Sirius XM 143/BYU Radio.org/BYU Radio app/KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM

Live stats: byucougars.com

The Word: BYU is 3-0 all-time against Western Oregon and won the last meeting 85-64 in 2009. … The Wolves are 4-4 this year after losing to Cal Poly Humboldt 97-92 on Tuesday. … Junior Gideon George is sponsoring another shoe drive this year, with donations to needy children in his home country of Nigeria. Collections will be made at bins near the Marriott Center this week.

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