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BYU 3-point shots go arctic cold in loss to KSU

BYU head coach Mark Pope reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

They are numbers BYU cannot live with this season.

The Cougars shot an ice-cold 6 of 31 from beyond the arc in an 84-74 loss at Kansas State on Saturday.

For a team that lives by burning bombs, this was a dud on arrival in Manhattan.

BYU has only won two road games this season, and winning out of suitcases has become a huge challenge for the Cougars in its inaugural season in the Big 12.

The Cougars have never won a game by making less than 30% on 3s. On this day the number was 19%.

Meanwhile, just like last Saturday’s loss to last-place Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Kansas State demolished BYU’s defense, scoring 42 points in the second half.

BYU’s archers were simply stymied.

More than half of the 31 attempts from beyond the arc were open, some wide open.

It was as if a lid covered the rim.

“We didn’t shoot the ball quite good enough on the road, along with the other challenge,” said Mark Pope afterwards on KSL radio.

“Giving up 42 points at half and allowing Arthur Kaluma to go 8 for 11 was really tough. We didn’t have an answer for him.”

Kaluma, who averages 14 points a game, scored 28 points for KSU, 10 of those coming on 12 attempts from the foul line.

“Life on the road in the Big 12 is complicated,” said Pope. “This league is hard. We’re good and need to get better. Our guys are passionate about getting better and growing.”

Jaxson Robinson made his first 3-point shot of the game and then missed all the rest he tried — going 1 for 9 from distance.

Dallin Hall was 0 for 5 from distance and 1 for 10 from the field. Trevin Knell missed the only shot he tried from beyond the arc and went 1 for 4.

Noah Waterman made 2 of his 5 attempts from beyond the arc and Spencer Johnson was 2 for 6 from distance. They had the most makes of anyone on the team at just two.

Yes, BYU made only six treys just a few days after Aly Khalifa made four against No. 11 Baylor.

On this day, he was 0 for 3 from distance.

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Pope knows as well as anyone that when his team can’t make 3s, it’s doomed. He built the team on that foundation, and the Cougars were 2 for 15 in the second half when they tried to mount an attack.

It was a game in which BYU never led.

It has similarities to the loss at Oklahoma State.

KSU did knock off Kansas on their home court eight games ago, but had struggled to make half their field goal attempts this season.

But the Wildcats made 55% of their shots on Saturday against the Cougars, and it was the most accurate they’d been since 57% against South Dakota State, hardly a Big 12 menace.

What this spells for the Cougars is the bar is high for them outside of the Marriott Center where warm fuzzies elevate them to a different level.

Take them on planes and to hotels and it’s a different story.

But that’s not just a BYU problem. It’s tough to win on the road, and in the Big 12, its a real buzzsaw to play on someone else’s home court.

Ask Baylor last Tuesday. Both Baylor and Kansas lost to KSU on this court.

BYU now plays Kansas at Kansas on Tuesday

Gulp.

Somewhere in all these numbers you must credit KSU, the best field goal defensive team in Big 12 play.

This is the Wildcats’ wheelhouse — limiting opponent success in shooting.  Still, the Cougars equaled their season average of 58% from two-point land in this loss.

It’s just that 19% on 31 bombs couldn’t get it done and it is the biggest number that tells the story of this game.

The bright spot for BYU at KSU was Richie Saunders. He continued his tough play from the win against Baylor, scoring 11 points off the bench.

He also had six rebounds and three steals in 20 minutes. On the season he has consistently been the most productive player on the court for minutes played.

It will be an interesting trip for this team to return to Provo and then come back to Kansas for the Jayhawk treatment in Lawrence.