Story of the stats: BYU loses to No. 4 Houston

Another conference game, another close loss for BYU.

In every single one of BYU’s four conference losses, the Cougars have been within four points with under six minutes to play. Besides tonight’s loss to Houston, BYU held the lead at halftime in every single conference game they’ve played.

We always knew that the Big 12 was easily the best conference in basketball but did we all think it would be this hard?

Okay so some of us thought it would be this tough but we also all thought that BYU had a real chance at making some noise in the conference this season. That being said, BYU still has a chance to make some noise and I promise there isn’t a single team that is looking forward to coming to Provo, or wants to see the Cougars during the Big 12 tournament.

At the end of the day you need to win games, and BYU missed a big opportunity tonight. Let’s take a look at some stats.

30%: BYU’s average three-point percentage in losses

Have you ever heard the saying: live by the three, die by the three? Of course you have. Have you ever seen the the physical manifestation of that saying in the flesh? You have if you’ve ever watched the 2023-24 Brigham Young University Men’s Basketball team.

The good news is that the Cougars are pretty good at shooting threes. BYU is 54th in the country in three-point percentage and 2nd in threes made per game. Tonight the Cougars shot an uncharacteristic 28.9% from three and it obviously proved to be the difference.

Mark Pope and this team have found their identity and when its rolling, its rolling and they look like they can beat anyone in the country. If you’re looking for a silver lining: BYU shot bad from three and were still tied with the fourth best team in the country with a little over a minute left and a wide open three to to go ahead late.

14: The number of threes BYU shot in a row in the second half

You read that correct. There was a nine minute stretch where the only shot the Cougars elected to take was from 21 feet or more. Pope wants to shoot the leather off the ball, and his players are far from shy to comply. However, it doesn’t take a basketball guru to know that in 19 possessions, you probably shouldn’t be taking 17 threes. And only making five of them.

“We’re going to need to start having some conversations about it,” said Pope after the game.

68: The most points Houston has given up this season

Granted, the Cougars of Houston did give up this many points once before this season, but it’s no question they have the best defense in the country. BYU still has one of the best offenses in the country. So what really is going wrong here? Why are the Cougars just 2-4 in conference play despite playing well and dominating in a lot of statistical categories? Well, I don’t know.

There’s something to be said about the way the Cougars close games. Remember that they’ve been within four points in the last six minutes in each of their losses? You wouldn’t exactly call this team inexperienced. Each player has legitimate division one experience and there isn’t a single freshman that gets real minutes. The only new transfer this year that plays is Aly Khalifa, who has seemed to mesh with the team better than anyone.

Call it a clutch gene, the “it” factor, or whatever you want. I think that BYU is just learning how to manage close games and get wins. Playing big time teams night in and night out is something that not a single player on the roster has experience with and it shows. It’s simply a result of playing in the toughest conference in America, where each team has the potential to upset Kansas and the gyms aren’t so small that they have volleyball lines on the court.

BYU has the foundation set, and find themselves hanging with the big dogs nearly every night. Playing in the Big 12 takes some getting used to and the Cougars have 12 more games to get acclimated.

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

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