Spencer Johnson, Noah Waterman and Jaxson Robinson combined for 61 of shorthanded BYU’s points in the No. 20 Cougars’ stirring 87-72 win over No. 24 Iowa State on Tuesday night, but it was the play of point guard Dallin Hall that had coach Mark Pope grinning from ear to ear.
“What you just saw out there tonight, it has probably been a while since we had a point guard put a performance like that on the board. That was really incredible. Wow. It was awesome.” — BYU coach Mark Pope on Dallin Hall
Hall, the 6-foot-4 sophomore from Fremont High, played like a true floor general in the battle of ranked Big 12 teams and delivered perhaps his best overall outing of the season. In the face of ISU’s relentless on-ball pressure, Hall went 4 for 4 from the field (3 for 3 from the 3-point line) and had eight assists and just three turnovers.
He also snagged five rebounds and two steals in nearly 35 minutes, forced to play more than usual, and handle the ball more than usual, because BYU was without its hottest shooter — Trevin Knell (foot) — and its top rebounder, Fousseyni Traore (hamstring tightness).
“Dallin Hall’s numbers might not leap out at you on the page. But that dude took a massive step forward as a point guard today — massive,” Pope said.
Back in the summer, Hall was expected to share point guard duties with Samford transfer Ques Glover and a couple of guys who could also step in if needed — UC Irvine transfer Dawson Baker and 6-7 wing Jaxson Robinson. Junior Trey Stewart was also an option at the point.
But Glover transferred to Kansas State and Baker has played sparingly with a foot injury that will require more surgery and is shutting it down for the season, Pope said Wednesday. Robinson got time at the point, with mixed results, in the recent road swing to Baylor and UCF.
As for Stewart, he hasn’t seen the floor since committing four turnovers in four minutes in the 71-60 loss to Cincinnati. Pope stuck with a seven-man rotation Tuesday, then deflected a question about why Stewart hasn’t been playing.
“We are just trying to work the rotations, trying to figure things out,” Pope said. “Trey is a terrific player and he has made a massive impact on our team and will continue to do so.”
As for Knell’s status, Pope said the former Woods Cross High star “collided feet” with a UCF player with about six minutes remaining in the Cougars’ 63-58 win in Orlando and “came out of the play limping,” but was able to finish the game.
“After game it was not great. We had imaging, and the imaging came back as good as it could possibly be,” Pope said. “We were really nervous, so we are hoping that he will make a quick recovery. We will see.”
It’s a serious blow, as Knell has made 25 of his last 43 3-pointers and had moved into 13th place on BYU’s career 3-pointers list, with 144.
Hall had his streak of 10 straight games with at least one 3-pointer snapped against UCF, but bounced back in a big way against the Cyclones. When they sagged off to protect the paint — which they are known for — Hall made them pay with three 3-pointers, or found Johnson (28 points), Waterman (18 points) or Robinson (15 points) for a big basket.
“Good point guards in college run a play. Really good point guards in college read the defense,” Pope said. “Elite-level, savant point guards, the really special ones, they move all the pieces on the chess board where they want them to kinda get what they want. And for the first time, I know Dallin has got that in him.”
Hall has 77 assists on the season, against 33 turnovers. He’s averaging 9.1 points and shooting 39% from 3-point range.
Cougars on the air
No. 20 BYU (2-2, 14-3)
at Texas Tech (3-1, 14-3)
Saturday, 4 p.m. MST
United Supermarkets Arena
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM
“There were a lot of possessions where it was, ‘Oh, he knows exactly the pieces he has to work with, and he is manipulating them exactly the right way,’” Pope said. “It was really special, guys. You go back and watch the film. I mean, the 8-3 (assist-turnover ratio) was super impressive at any rate.
“But he was spectacular tonight. What you just saw out there tonight, it has probably been a while since we had a point guard put a performance like that on the board. That was really incredible. Wow. It was awesome.”
For the injury-riddled Cougars, the gantlet of Quad 1 games continues. They will play at No. 25 Texas Tech on Saturday in Lubbock (4 p.m. MST, ESPN2) and then return to Provo next week to host Houston and Texas.
At least they will have an extra day to prepare for the Red Raiders, who were scheduled to put their perfect league record on the line Wednesday night at No. 5 Houston.