BYU falls to Cincinnati 71-60 in Big-12 opener

Unlike their football counterparts, the BYU Cougars were unable to secure their first Big 12 victory, falling to the Cincinnati Bearcats 71-60 in a disappointing home debut.

The Cougars started strong, taking a 7-point lead into halftime thanks to Trevin Knell’s career night from beyond the arc. Knell cashed four three-pointers in the first half, and BYU held the Bearcats to a dismal 24 points on 28% shooting.

The second half, however, proved to be a different story. Cincinnati slowly chipped away at the lead, while BYU’s offense became increasingly reliant on Knell’s hot hand.

Shortly after Knell drained his ninth three-pointer of the game, he was subbed out and remained on the bench for the next six minutes. During that stretch, the Bearcats extended their lead to double digits, while the Cougars managed to score only two points.

This six-minute scoring drought proved to be the turning point in the game. The Cougars began taking forced and ill-advised three-pointers, ultimately converting only 13 of their 46 attempts from beyond the arc.

BYU also had no answer for former Utah Valley big man Aziz Bandaogo, who ended the game with a double-double in just 22 minutes of playing time. Bandaogo’s presence on the defensive end significantly impacted the Cougars’ shooting in the second half, as they finished the game shooting a meager 29.4% from the field.

“I like the 46 (threes),” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “I’ll take the 46. We missed 30. We were just really unsuccessful on the offensive glass.”

Pope also acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead in the Big 12. “It’s gonna be like this night after night,” he said.

The Cougars certainly have their work cut out for them, as they travel to Waco next Tuesday to face the 18th-ranked Baylor Bears.

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