BYU Suffers Upset Loss to Duquesne in NCAA Tournament Opener


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OMAHA, NEBRASKA—In a stunning upset, the No. 6 seed Brigham Young University (BYU) Cougars were defeated by the No. 11 seed Duquesne Dukes in the first round of the East Region in the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. This brought an end to BYU’s season with a final record of 23-11.

One of the primary factors contributing to BYU’s downfall was their apparent surprise at Duquesne’s physicality, a characteristic well-documented before the matchup. Duquesne’s formidable defense, ranked within the Top-30 in Ken Pom adjusted efficiency metrics, proved a significant challenge for BYU, who struggled to match their opponent’s intensity from the outset.

BYU’s slow start, falling behind 7-0 early in the game, mirrored a recurring issue throughout the season, including in previous tournament appearances. Despite speculation regarding potential changes to the starting lineup, BYU coach Mark Pope opted to maintain consistency, a decision that ultimately failed to counteract their sluggish beginnings.

While the defeat was a disappointment for BYU, reserve guard Jaxson Robinson emerged as a standout performer, showcasing his talents with an impressive 25-point contribution. However, his efforts were not enough to overturn the deficit, particularly in the absence of crucial shots during the game’s final minutes.

Throughout the contest, crucial plays and rebounds favored Duquesne, with BYU’s mistakes down the stretch proving costly. Despite their efforts to rally, BYU ultimately succumbed to the pressure of the NCAA Tournament stage, with coach Pope acknowledging the resilience and competitiveness displayed by his team despite the loss.

The defeat highlights a recurring struggle for BYU in postseason play, raising questions about the team’s ability to perform under the heightened pressure of March Madness. As the season comes to a close, BYU will undoubtedly reflect on its shortcomings and look towards the offseason with the aim of regrouping for future challenges.