Every BYU fan knew the Big 12 was going to be a basketball powerhouse this season.
Fewer would’ve seen the Cougars fitting this well so early.
But after knocking off West Virginia on the road last week, BYU kept a place in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, moving up one spot to No. 21.
The Big 12 led Monday’s poll with six schools from the conference in the mix:
• No. 4 Kansas
• No. 5 Houston
• No. 13 Baylor
• No. 14 Iowa State
• No. 21 BYU
• No. 23 Texas Tech
BYU is 16-5 on the season after a 86-73 win over the Mountaineers.
“Man, that was a fun game. Never been to West Virginia. First time for me and I think a lot of guys,” Spencer Johnson said. “West Virginia has been playing really, really well at home. They beat Kansas, Texas and Cincinnati. We knew we had a job coming in here that we had to take care of business. Super fun to come on the road and get a win.”
Fousseyni Traore scored a team-high 24 points, surpassing the 20-point mark for the first time this season.
“I’m super grateful for my teammates,” the junior said. “They’re the ones that made my life super easy by finding me and making easy passes. It was just fun to play with my boys.”
Traore’s contributions were all the more important given the absence of big man Aly Khalifa.
“Fousseyni Traore has been a mainstay at BYU. He’s been one of the faces of BYU basketball for the last three years,” head coach Mark Pope said. “This is a place where we are very comfortable playing but we know our frontline is healthy it’s really fun because throw different looks and dynamics on the floor. Fouss knew coming into this game that he was going to have to carry a massive load against one of the elite centers in the league.”
The Cougars next travel to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Utah State dropped five spots in Monday’s poll after losing on the road at San Diego State. The Aggies (19-3) will get a chance to rebound this week with home games against Nevada and Boise State.
In the women’s poll, the Utes stayed steady at No. 20 after sweeping the Washington schools last week. Utah hosts No. 18 Oregon State on Friday night.