The BYU Cougars were eliminated from the Big 12 tournament following an 81-67 loss against the Texas Tech University Red Raiders on Thursday.

Cougars fans will have a week to sit and digest the loss as they prepare for the NCAA tournament.

Here are three stories from the Cougar’s final game before the madness begins.

Cold from deep

The Big 12 tournament was a microcosm for BYU’s season. On Wednesday they shot 14-for-30 from behind the arc, and it translated to a 14-point win for the Cougars. On Thursday they shot just 7-for-35 from 3-point territory and it led to them losing by 14 points. All season long, the story for BYU has been their inconsistency from deep.

BYU dug themselves into a 19-point halftime deficit. They managed just 23 points in the opening 20 minutes and were 3-for-18 from 3-point territory. In comparison, the Red Raiders scored 42 points in the opening half and shot 7-for-11 from deep.

“They came out really aggressive,” said BYU’s Spencer Johnson. “We came out a bit flat and that was maybe the frustrating part because we just didn’t set the tone early in the game like we should have.”

Giving BYU credit, they showed fight on the offensive end in the second half. They scored 44 points in the final 20 minutes and trimmed the lead. With 10:47 remaining, the Cougars went on a 15-0 run, including two 3-pointers from Jaxson Robinson, making the score 62-55 Texas Tech with 5:04 remaining. Joe Toussaint stuck the dagger in BYU fans hearts though when he drilled a 3-pointer to re-establish the Red Raiders lead with 4:41 remaining.

“We don’t get to choose when we make shots and when we don’t,” Robinson said. “But what matters is if we’re gonna come out there and fight and I felt like by the time we decided to put up that fight, it was too late.”

At the end of the day, a cold day from behind the arc played a large role in BYU’s downfall and it will continue to be a factor going forward.

Rebounds

Team rebounding has been an asset for BYU this season. They currently rank second in the Big 12 averaging 39.8 rebounds per game. Comparably, Texas Tech ranks 10 in the Big 12, grabbing 34.9 rebounds per game.

The Red Raiders dominated the glass on Thursday. Texas Tech teamed up to rip 42 rebounds, led by Chance McMillan who had eight rebounds. BYU was -8 on the glass, grabbing 34 rebounds as a group. Johnson led BYU with seven rebounds. Texas Tech outscored BYU 16-7 on second-chance points.

“You know, their guards had a really good job of coming down and rebounding down,” Johnson said. “And one thing we can really learn from that is we actually have to get a hit. I think a lot of us got caught just ball-watching. We’d watch a shot go up and we wouldn’t hit our guy and they would hit us first.”

Rebounds are often called “hustle stats,” and BYU lost that battle handily on Wednesday.

Khalifa out

BYU fans were left worrying about Aly Khalifa after Thursday’s game.

Khalifa did not play in the second half after an ankle injury sidelined him. Mark Pope did not provide an update on Khalifa’s health after the game.

Khalifa has become a focal point for the Cougars. Their offense runs through him at the top of the key. When Khalifa is healthy, he is a passing and shooting threat. He has 108 assists this year. Teams have to adjust their defenses when the Cougars are able to flip between him and Fousseyni Traore.

BYU will have a full week to get ready for the NCAA Tournament. If BYU wants to have success in the tournament, they are going to need to spend every day trying to get Khalifa back to full strength.

Next up

Now that they have been eliminated from the Big 12 tournament, BYU is left playing the waiting game.

The Cougars will almost surely hear their name called when the NCAA tournament committee announces their official bracket on Sunday. The only questions are who they will be playing, when they will be playing and where they will be playing. Due to the BYU religious rules that prevent the Cougars from playing on Sundays, they will open their tournament on March 21.

The official bracket will be announced on Sunday on CBS and it will be broadcast live at 4 p.m.