BYU took a punch in the gut in their attempt to upset Saint Mary’s as three rotation 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 just miss this game and return next week.
Lineup changes for BYU vs. SMC as Richie Saunders starts for the second time of the season:
Head coach Mark Pope says Jaxson Robinson, Atiki Ally Atiki and Noah Waterman will sit out tonight after breaking a team rule; come back next Thu. v. LMU.
— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) January 29, 2023
Robinson is the only starter in the group, averaging 8.5 points on 35% shooting out of three in the season. The 6-foot-7 wingman has blasted 137 threes this season — the most on the team — and his length makes him a good defender. Atiki and Waterman are both benchers who average 5 points or less on the season, but they will hamper 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 at 14.4 minutes. Waterman has struggled for the past month, but the 6-foot-11 forward is one of the team’s better shooters.
BYU will likely choose a 7- or 8-man rotation, with Richie Saunders coming into the starting lineup and Rudi Williams and Trey Stewart playing main bench. Tredyn Christensen – a 6-foot-7, 235-pound walk-on transfer from Chaminade, will likely take a few minutes at the five to spell Fouss. Christensen was a starter on guard for Chaminade and has good athletics for his size but every minute he gets will be a tall order. Gideon George could also get a few minutes at the five.
The Gaels have already provided a tough test of a healthy BYU, and the absences make things that much harder. SMC is ranked 22nd in the AP poll and in the top 7 of the NET and KenPom rankings.