Story of the stats: BYU handles no. 24 Iowa State

If you told me before the game that BYU’s bench would get some playing time, I probably would’ve asked how much the Cougars had lost by.

BYU’s performance Tuesday is in the running for the best of the entire season. The Cougars dominated on the court en route to a 87-72 spanking in Provo, but surprisingly didn’t exactly dominate the stat sheet.

With fairly similar shooting numbers, giving up 14 offensive rebounds and committing 17 turnovers, BYU still managed to beat the No. 9 team in NET by 15 points. Thankfully, there are a few specific stats that better tell the story. Get it? Story of the stats? Alright, not my best.

21: BYU fast break points

It’s no secret that this BYU team plays best when they are playing fast and free. The Cougars were finally able to get back into their rhythm offensively and it was all thanks to the fast break; 21 points may not seem all that significant, but the ramifications go beyond what’s shown in the stat sheet.

BYU’s offense is largely dependent on its ability to hit threes and getting out on the break really opens those shots up. The Cougars don’t really need any help getting long shots up, but tonight they were mostly open shots, and all 35 attempts were big. Guys who had been in shootings slumps, like Noah Waterman and Dallin Hall, were able to find their stroke and it ultimately made the difference. It’s how BYU was able to make just one more field goal, and still win decisively.

28.6%: Iowa State’s three-point percentage

Granted, the Cyclones don’t typically put up big number from beyond the arc, but they are sitting at 35% from deep on the season. BYU continues to be a top five team in the country in three-point defense and Tuesday it really showed. The Cougars were fighting over screens, rotating to the weak side, and communicating like crazy to give one of the best defenses in college basketball a taste of their own medicine.

6: The number of BYU players that played double-digit minutes

The Cougars were down four scholarship players and two starters against a very formidable opponent. Mark Pope and the rest of the coaching staff had a tough test in figuring out how to handle the rotation and absolutely succeeded. Five of the six put up double-digit points and didn’t look tired for a second.

Elite college basketball teams have a seven man rotation. Occasionally, an eighth player if the circumstances call for it. It’s the way the game is played and the best teams learn to rely on those seven. BYU has been so deep all season that there were times we saw ten players get double-digit minutes. The good news for the Cougars is that even with injuries they are able to roll out seven guys they can trust to get the job done.

87: Most points Iowa State has given up in three years

Not much to this other than what BYU did to the Cyclones is pretty significant. Iowa State is third in the NCAA in scoring defense. On average, they give up just 58.4 points per game. BYU had 58 points with over 12 minutes left to play. It’s as impressive as it sounds. BYU’s offense appears to be back.

28: Spencer Johnson’s new career high points in a game

Just a quick shoutout to Spencer Johnson for setting a new career high for points in a game. Johnson continues to be the stalwart leader of this team. And the oldest player in college basketball, in case you haven’t already heard. He was more than due for a stellar performance like this one.

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

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