Story of the stats: BYU bounces back against Denver

It feels nice to be back in the win column.

BYU basketball is back to its old ways: chucking up threes, playing fast in transition, and winning games. What even happened last week? I can’t remember.

Tonight’s score may not look all that pleasing upon first glance and in truthfulness, the Cougars didn’t play their best game. However, a win is a win and this game was critical to get Mark Pope’s squad back on track. As always, here are some stats that tell the story.

8/16: Jaxson Robinson’s three-point attempts

I’m not sure what’s more impressive: The fact Jaxson Robinson canned eight threes tonight, or the fact he took a whopping 16, which accounted for 43% of BYU’s attempt from beyond the line. Robinson is a pure shooter who brings an electric spark to the team when he comes into the game and tonight he was letting them fly. His shooting has been the highlight of this team’s young season, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping.

I still don’t quite understand why Pope continues to opt to have Robinson come off the bench. It seems like his elite shooting and overall presence is something you would want on the court as soon as possible. The things is Robinson isn’t just a sit in the corner and shoot every chance you get type of player. He’s an elite ball handler, threat from the midrange and at the rim and formidable defender when he wants to be. We’ll see if his role changes at all come conference play.

3: The number of BYU players with a defensive rating under 100

Before you think to yourself “wow,” don’t. This is not a good stat. Defensive rating is defined as points allowed by a player per 100 possessions. That means that nearly every BYU player was giving up over one point per possession which is terrible. You want to have a lower number for this stat. A stat where you want a high number would be stop percentage, which estimates the rate of defensive possessions where the opposing team did not score. Only one player was over 100: Noah Waterman.

The Cougars defense was not stellar tonight but Denver is a good offensive team. They average over 80 a game which is good enough for just outside top 40 in the country. However, BYU was getting exposed on switches and were beat one on one of the dribble way to many times. If they want to be ready for conference play, they’re going to have to step it up.

26:2: Aly Khalifa’s season assist-to-turnover ratio

The Egyptian Magician has been all sorts of magical this year with his insane court vision and reliability at the five. He came in big when Fouss Traore went down, and has been helping the Cougars in many ways. He wasn’t needed as much tonight against a smaller Denver team, but this stat speaks to just how insane of a passer he is. He notched three assists in limited time on the court tonight. BYU will need him to continue to step up with Fouss’ return still in question.

91%: BYU’s free throw percentage

I wrote last week about BYU’s poor charity stripe numbers and said to keep an eye on it as a potential problem moving forward. I still can’t quite remember what happened last weekend, but this seemed like it played a big role. The Cougars showed vast improvement tonight but not enough for me to clear them. They need to consistently hit the free shots in order to be an elite team.

10 & 11: Noah Waterman’s points and rebounds at the half

Huge shoutout to Waterman the first double-double of his career. He did it in the first half! Waterman has improved so much from last year it’s like he’s a different player. Perhaps one of the biggest improvements was the fact that he bounced back from a rough outing last game with one of the best performances of his career. That takes grit and mental toughness and not only Waterman, but this whole team looks like they’re full of it.

Chase is the sports editor for the Daily Universe. Follow him on X: @Chase_rogers0

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