Cincinnati at BYU: Big 12 Opener Preview

The Bearcats (11-2) travel to Provo, Utah on Saturday night to take on the BYU Cougars (12-1).

BYU comes in to the game ranked 12th nationally, after being picked to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the preseason Big 12 rankings. 

The Cougars are an interesting team. 

They have won 12 of 13 games (their best start in 35 years) and have done it primarily with guys that most people outside of Provo have never heard of. Their leading scorer, more on him later, comes off the bench and the Cougars have put together a resume so far that has them ranked number 2 nationally in the NET ratings, just behind Houston. 

Kenpom ranks BYU no. 4 in the country. 

Key Stats and Notes:

- BYU ranks fourth nationally in scoring average (90 points per game) with a 58.5 effective shooting rate from the field. As a team, they shoot just under 50% from the field, which ranks 29th nationally. 

- The Cougars have won by an average 28.8 points per game, which leads the country.

- Eight players average over 20 minutes per game with their ninth man averaging 18 minutes per game. Those 9 players rank inside Evan Miya's Top 250 players...the only school that has that amount in the rating system. 

- The Bearcats rank second nationally in rebounding margin (+13.6), sixth in rebounds per game (43.8) and ninth in offensive rebounds (15.1).

BYU ranks first nationally in assists per game (22.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio, as well as 3-pointers per game (12.8). BYU has hit 10 or more 3-pointers in all twelve wins this season. Their 38 percent 3-point average ranks 23rd nationally. 

Players to watch:

6'7 Senior G Jaxson Robinson ( 16 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 47.7 FG% , 41.4 3FG% , 92 FT% )

Robinson began his career at Texas A&M and then transferred to Arkansas, prior to landing at BYU. The talented wing is the Cougars leading scorer, despite coming off the bench and finished with 10 points against Wyoming in 28 minutes, after sitting out a game due to a foot injury. He is a guy that will let it fly from outside. Prior to the foot injury, he attempted 6 or more 3-point attempts in 9-of-10 games. Robinson made 8-of-16 3-pointers and scored 28 points in a win over Denver. Also scored 23 points in a win over NC State.

6'11 Senior F Noah Watterman ( 11.8 ppg , 6.6 rpg, 49 FG% , 42.9 3FG% )

At 6'11. Watterman is more of a stretch four-man than a rim protecting big. He will step out and attempt a 3 in pick-and-pop situations but isn't one to mix it up in the paint with his back to the basket. Watterman has attempted four or more 3-pointers in 11 of 13 games. 

Watterman began his career at Niagra before playing at Detroit Mercy from 2020-2022.

6'5 Redshirt Junior G Trevin Knell ( 11.8 ppg, 4 rpg, 50 FG% , 43.1 3FG% )

Knell has made nine of his last 15 attempts from 3-point range and has made three or more three-pointers in 8 of 13 games this season. Scored in double figures in seven of BYU's past eight games. 

6'5 Sophomore G Richie Saunders ( 10.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 56.7 FG%, 33.3 3FG%)

Saunders is a career 33 percent three-point shooter so isn't as efficient from outside as he is when driving to the rim. His 56.7 field goal percentage is second on the team for players who have appeared in 7 or more games. 

6'5 Senior G Spencer Johnson ( 10.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.6 apg, 42.4 FG%, 29.3 3FG%)

Began his career at Weber State and then transferred to Salt Lake Community College for one year, prior to arriving at BYU. Statistically the worst three-point shooter among impact players but has made 4-of-8 during the past two games and ranks 8th in program history in 3-point percentage (42.2).

6'6 Junior F Fousseyni Traore ( 10.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 64 FG% , 66.7 3FG%)

Last year's leading scorer for BYU but has missed the past 7 games due to a hamstring injury. He returned to practice this week but it is unclear of his status fro Saturday night. Three-point percentage is a bit mis-leading as he only attempted three shots from the perimeter prior to the injury. Selected to 2024 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year watchlist and was a second team West Coast Conference selection last season.

6'4 Sophomore G Dallin Hall ( 9.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.5 apg, 48.9 FG%, 41.7 3FG%)

One of BYU's primary ball handlers with four or more assists in 9 of BYU's 13 games this season. Has made at least one 3-pointer in 11 of 13 games this season. Scored 18 points in the win over San Diego State. Second on the team in minutes played.

6'11 Senior C Aly Khalifa (4.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.2 apg, 42.5 FG% , 38.1 3FG%)

His sister, Nesma,  played two years for UC's Women's Basketball team.

Shot 37.2 percent from three in three seasons at Charlotte, prior to coming to BYU. 

6'2 Junior G Trey Stewart (3.9 ppg, 3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 41.7 FG%, 28.6 3FG%)

Link: Everything Wes Miller said about BYU and Big 12 play


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