BYU coach Mark Pope on Big 12 win over UCF and Taylor Swift’s favorite number


The Cougars could have been enchanted by the number 13 in their Big 12 Tournament win over Central Florida.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mark Pope as BYU hosts University of Central Florida, NCAA basketball in Provo on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.

The BYU men’s basketball team advanced in the Big 12 Tournament by beating Central Florida, 87-73, on Wednesday.

But it wasn’t Fousseyni Traore’s 14 points and 10 rebounds, or Spencer Johnson’s seven assists, or even UCF’s 38.8% shooting that sealed the deal for the Cougars.

The only number that mattered, BYU coach Mark Pope joked, was 13. And that number has nothing to do with basketball.

Pope referenced 13 back in October when discussing where pundits thought the Cougars would end up in the standings after their first Big 12 season. He said back then he liked 13 because he has four daughters who love Taylor Swift and it’s the pop star’s favorite number.

But as the saying goes: Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is a pattern.

After BYU beat UCF, Pope said he was told before the game that they’ve played the Knights on Jan. 13 and Feb. 13 — both wins. Their game in the Big 12 Tournament?

March 13.

“We knew that with our third game on March 13, the deck was stacked against these guys, man,” Pope said. “It’s not even fair.”

You can’t make this stuff up.



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