No. 25 BYU stumbles in 84-74 loss at Kansas State

No. 25 BYU struggled to find its shot in its 84-74 loss to Kansas State on Saturday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum.


MANHATTAN, Kan. — No. 25 BYU struggled to find its shot in its 84-74 loss to Kansas State on Saturday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum. 

Despite an early 16-4 deficit, BYU battled back to tie the game at 28 and trail by only four at the half. K-State pulled away in the second half with 65 percent shooting from the field and a 15-of-22 performance from the free throw line. The Cougars were unable to comeback as they went 2-of-15 from beyond the arch and 4-of-10 from the free throw line to close the game.

K-State shot 56 percent for the game to BYU’s 41. The Cougars made six of 31 3-point attempts while the Wildcats knocked down 7 of 15. BYU’s shooting struggles undid a 38-33 rebounding advantage, including 19-6 on the offensive glass.

Jaxson Robinson’s 15 points led the Cougars’ five players to score in double figures. Noah Waterman and Spencer Johnson added 12 a-piece with Waterman also recording seven rebounds, a block and a steal.

Richie Saunders was BYU’s second-half playmaker. Saunders scored 11 for the game, eight of which came in the second half. The sophomore guard also added six boards and three steals. Fousseyni Traore posted 10 points and five rebounds as well. 

First Half
BYU weathered the Wildcats 16-4 start over the game’s first four minutes and clawed back to a single-possession deficit with a 10-0 run in 95 seconds of gametime.

Robinson arrived off the bench and poured in a much-needed 3-pointer followed by a mid-range jumper on consecutive possessions. BYU drew within five at 16-11 with Waterman adding a pair of free throw makes on the team’s next possession. Waterman then helped cut K-State’s lead to 16-14 with a block on the defensive end of the floor followed by a corner-three on the other.

The Wildcats responded to each BYU surge for the remainder of the half but the Cougars had rediscovered their offense by the game’s 14-minute mark.

K-State climbed back up 24-18 until Johnson and Traore teamed-up to help BYU respond with a 10-4 swing.

Johnson ended a Wildcat possession with a charge then drove hard to the basket and scored high off the glass. Traore added two-straight buckets in the paint to bring BYU within two before Johnson stole the ball and hit two free throws after a foul on the fastbreak. A third-consecutive Traore field goal tied the game at 28 with 6:26 before the break.

K-State took another six-point lead at 36-30 but again the Cougars responded with big plays from Richie Saunders. The sophomore guard stole the ball on defense then took a handoff from Khalifa and splashed a triple to put BYU within three.

The Cougars closed the half with a Johnson 3-pointer and hook shot from Traore, then headed to the locker room down 42-38.

The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field to BYU’s 45 in the first half. K-State’s lead was buoyed by six made 3-pointers on 10 attempts to the Cougars’ four on 16. BYU worked its way back into the game from an early 14-point deficit after scoring 13 points on seven Wildcat turnovers. Johnson and Robinson led BYU with nine points a-piece at the break while Waterman added seven.

Second Half
K-State began the second half much as it had the first with a 7-0 run. BYU trimmed its new deficit to six with scores from Hall and Khalifa then held the Wildcats scoreless over a 3-minute stretch. Despite a string of stops on defense, the Cougars couldn’t mount another comeback with a lid over the rim both from the field and the free throw line.  

After falling down 53-43 five minutes into the half, Robinson drained a contested turnaround jumper to put BYU back within single digits. Three-straight free throw misses and a 2-of-11 stretch from the field hampered the Cougars’ search for points while the Wildcats ballooned their lead to 63-49. K-State would lead by as many as 16  while BYU continued looking for answers on both ends of the floor.

Saunders provided the Cougars with a spark off the bench in the game’s waning moments. The scrappy guard turned a Hall steal into two points the other way on a fastbreak lay-in midway through the half. Saunders then forced a turnover on a K-State inbound pass and dished the ball out to Johnson for a trey that brought BYU within eight at 75-67 with 2:41 to play. Saunders scored the Cougars’ last two buckets as well in a last-ditch comeback effort that fell short.

BYU is set for the second game of its Sunflower State swing with a matchup at Kansas coming on Tuesday at 7 p.m. CST. Watch the Cougars and Jayhawks face-off at historic Allen Fieldhouse on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ or listen to live play-by-play on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, Radio app or KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.