Has BYU men’s basketball turned a corner?

Plus, when could the women’s team win its first home game against a Division I opponent?

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars guard Dallin Hall (30) and Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Waterman (0) walk off the court during a timeout as Brigham Young University hosts University of Utah in Provo, Dec. 17, 2022.

It wasn’t long ago in this space when there wasn’t much confidence that the BYU men’s basketball team was going to figure things out anytime soon. That sentiment came from the team’s own coach, Mark Pope, who had said multiple times that the Cougars weren’t a good team.

But now it seems as though the Cougars have found something. They came back to beat Creighton, which was ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press poll at the time. They followed that up by thumping Division II team Western Oregon, then out-toughing Utah at home — the team’s first win in the Marriott Center since beating Nicholls on Nov. 19.

The Cougars are on a three-game winning streak — the longest of the season. The next two games on their schedule are at home against Lindenwood on Tuesday and Weber State on Thursday. By Christmastime, they may have a five-game winning streak going into the West Coast Conference schedule.

“We played six out of seven games away from home,” Pope said. “I mean, that’s just brutal. We haven’t talked about that. But that’s just brutal. It’s actually asking too much of our guys.”

The stretch to which Pope is referring to started against USC on Nov. 23 and ended against Creighton on Dec. 10. The only game played in the Marriott Center between those two dates was against Utah Valley.

So can the team’s turnaround really be attributed to some well-timed home cooking? Probably not.

What’s more likely is BYU finally decided to do something after the gut punch of losing back-to-back games to South Dakota and Utah Valley. Rudi Williams is now thriving in his role off the bench, Dallin Hall made his second game-winning shot, and Fousseyni Traore has essentially become the team’s anchor on both sides of the floor.

If the BYU men keep this up, there might be reason to think they can make some noise in the WCC after all.

The women’s team, on the other hand, is a different story. They’re now 4-8 and on a three-game losing streak after losing badly Monday to Portland.

Most Telling Quote

“I’m excited because it’s conference coming up. It feels like a clean slate and you’re like, OK, now that we’ve had our trial run of our team this year, we’re a lot more prepared than we were at the beginning of preseason. ... We’re walking into it with open minds and everyone’s locked in. We’re ready. We’re just ready to smash out the season.” — Kaylee Smiler, BYU women’s basketball forward

The BYU women’s basketball team is definitely not lacking confidence.

The above quote was said before the Cougars lost to No. 23 Gonzaga and Portland in their first two WCC games. They had an impressive push to start the second quarter against Gonzaga and led at halftime, but came apart in the second half and ended up losing. Against the Pilots, almost nothing went right for the Cougars.

The women’s team time and time again this season has shown its youth and inexperience, and there aren’t many signs any of that will improve much during conference play. But you have to give the team credit for its stubborn belief, which, other than the stellar play of Lauren Gustin, is all BYU has going for it right now.

Most Eye-Popping Stat

0-4. That is the women’s team’s record at the Marriott Center against Division I opponents so far this season.

For a team that has a new head coach and lots of youth, it’s difficult to poo-poo the fact that it did win at home against Carroll College on Nov. 23. But that school isn’t even in the NCAA. So in reality, this new Cougars team still hasn’t won a meaningful game at home yet.

Although, that may change when the women play Monmouth (5-5, 276 in NET) later this week.

NCAA NET/KenPom Rankings


NET: 139

KenPom: 85


NET: 143

What’s notable here is the men jumped 35 spots in the NET after beating Utah (and four more spots Monday). And after spending some time in the 90s in KenPom, the BYU men jumped there, too. Both figures are still too low if they want to make the NCAA Tournament, but it’s at least a step in the right direction following two big wins.

Schedule Lookahead


• Tuesday vs. Lindenwood

• Thursday vs. Weber State


• Monday at Portland

• Wednesday vs. Monmouth