Story of the stats: Cougars fend off UCF comeback

Another day, another BYU game being unnecessarily dramatic in the final minutes.

The Cougars were able to complete their first ever season sweep over a Big 12 team, taking down UCF 90-88 Tuesday night. In one of the most absurd final 1:35 of a game, the Knights scored 16(!) points in that time and very nearly sent every Cougar fan home utterly shocked.

Letting late-game leads slip away is starting to become a bit of a pattern for BYU in conference play. Tuesday night, UCF did one of the most amazing last minute efforts in college basketball this year and still fell short. Let’s dive into the stats.

40/46: BYU’s free throw attempts

Those 46 free throws are the most BYU has attempted in a game since 2012. Forty free throws is the most BYU has made in a game since . . . Basketball Reference didn’t go back that far.

Last Saturday in BYU’s win over Kansas State the Cougars shot just 47.6% from the charity stripe, which was a big reason the Wildcats were able to muscle their way back into the game. Needless to say, making 40/46 is a vast improvement that proved to be more than critical in what ended up being just a two point game. Also, 40 points from free throws is bonkers.

10: The amount of conference games out of 11 that BYU has had a second half lead

The Cougars are 6-5 in conference play. Over .500 through 11 conference games! It’s a great spot to be in if you’re BYU, and they find themselves as a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. It is as surprising as it is amazing and the Cougars have proved a lot of people wrong.

However, BYU has also left a lot of games just short and has found itself letting leads go. The Cougars have led in the second half of every conference game except for their loss to Houston, where they were tied with just over a minute left in the game. They have held a double digit lead in every one of their conference wins, and that lead has dwindled to single digits in the final five minutes in almost every win. Why? It’s the Big 12. Every team could beat you on any given night, and BYU has found itself in a fight every single game.

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