BYU got a gut punch in their quest to upset Saint Mary’s as three rotational players will miss tonight’s game in Provo. Atiki Ally Atiki, Noah Waterman, and Jaxson Robinson will all be unavailable, Mark Pope told Greg Wrubell before the game. All three are expected to miss just this game, returning again next week.
Lineup change for BYU v. SMC, as Richie Saunders gets his second start of the season:— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) January 29, 2023
Head coach Mark Pope says Jaxson Robinson, Atiki Ally Atiki and Noah Waterman will sit out tonight after breaking a team rule; will return next Thu. v. LMU.
Robinson is the lone starter in the group, averaging 8.5 points on 35% shooting from three on the season. The 6-foot-7 wing man has taken 137 threes on the season — the most on the team — and is a good defender with his length. Atiki and Waterman are both bench players that average 5 points or less on the season, but they will hinder BYU’s frontcourt depth. The 6-foot-10 Atiki was a key part in BYU’s home win over the Gaels last season and is BYU’s leading shot blocker in 14.4 minutes of action. Waterman has struggled the past month, but the 6-foot-11 forward is one of the team’s better shooters.
BYU will likely go with an 7 or 8-man rotation, with Richie Saunders coming into the starting lineup and Rudi Williams and Trey Stewart as the main bench guys. Tredyn Christensen — a 6-foot-7, 235 pounds walk-on transfer from Chaminade, will likely have to get some minutes at the five to spell Fouss. Christensen was a starter at guard for Chaminade and has good athleticism for his size, but any minutes he get will be a tall task. Gideon George could also get some minutes at the five.
The Gaels already provided a stiff test for a healthy BYU, and the absences make things that much tougher. SMC is ranked 22 in the AP Poll and in the top 7 of both NET and KenPom rankings.