Poor shooting plagues Cougars at Oklahoma

The 2022-2023 BYU basketball team appeared to be back Tuesday night in Norman, Oklahoma.

The No. 21 Cougars dropped another conference road game, this time at Lloyd Noble Center, falling to Oklahoma 82-66 in perhaps BYU’s worst performance this season.

The game didn’t start that way however, as the Cougars held a lead most of the first half. Fouss Traore was dominant with 11 first half points, and Dallin Hall was 3 of 3 from three. However, BYU’s offense sputtered late in the half, and both teams went into the locker rooms all knotted up at 34.

The Cougars jumped out to a quick lead to start the second half, but it didn’t last long. Oklahoma buckled down on defense and attacked BYU off the dribbled to take a double-digit lead late into the game. The Cougars couldn’t find an offensive rhythm the entire second half, making only three 3s in the period. The Sooners capitalized on desperation fouls to stretch their lead late and ran away with it.

A big part of the Cougars struggles came from missing big man Aly Khalifa, who didn’t make the road trip due to an illness. Khalifa also missed last week’s game against West Virginia, where BYU was able to grab a win, 86-73. The plan in that game was obvious: Feed Traore in the low-post.

Traore ended that game with 24 points and nine rebounds and was easily the biggest key to the Cougars success. It seems that coach Mark Pope liked what he saw, because it seemed that every BYU possession was just one big effort to get Traore the ball.

To his credit, he put up 21 points and 5 rebounds. The problem is, he shot barely over 50% without taking a shot over 13 feet away from the basket. The poor shooting wasn’t solely Traore’s; he led the team in points.

The Cougars shot a disgusting 35.9% from the field, their second worst outing this season. The worst part is that most of them were bunnies, as they went just 9 of 22 on layups on the night. That’s 26 points left on the board. If you watched the game, it feels like there should be more.

The most surprising part of the game was the way BYU’s offense was unrecognizable from to ball-moving, well-oiled machine the Cougars have been known for all season. It looked a lot like last year’s team.

You remember that offense, right? BYU would run a three man weave 40 feet from the hoop until the shot clock got down to single-digits, then they would force a pass into the post and put up a shot as time expired. How could you forget?

The Cougars weren’t themselves and this game is proof of how important ball movement, transition offense, and the 3-pointer is for this team. It seemed that every thing that made this team good for the past 21 games vanished Tuesday night, and BYU was determined to be the opposite of who its been all season long.

The Cougars had just 12 assists, 32 rebounds, and six fastbreak points — all tied for season-lows.

It was just BYU’s second time this season playing two road games in a row, and because of the distance the trip lasted five days over the span of the two games. The Cougars were also missing their most efficient offensive player in Khalifa.

BYU now sits in the bottom half in the conference and will look toward a big game Saturday night against Kansas State. With the Wildcats fresh off of a win against No. 4 Kansas, the Cougars will need to rediscover their offense to get a much-needed conference win.

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

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