No. 18 BYU defeats UCF 63-58, picks up first Big 12 win

Aly Khalifa scored a season-high 17 points as No. 18 BYU defeated UCF 63-58 on Saturday afternoon at Addition Financial Arena for its first win of the Big 12 era.


ORLANDO, Fla. - Aly Khalifa scored a season-high 17 points as No. 18 BYU defeated UCF 63-58 on Saturday afternoon at Addition Financial Arena for its first win of  the Big 12 era. 

"Ton of love and respect for UCF,” head coach Mark Pope said. “The venue tonight was incredible, so props to UCF because it was special to play here. Proud of our guys for fighting. It’s a slugfest like we kind of expected coming in. We came away win and we’re so proud of that.” 

Khalifa was one of three Cougars to score in double figures as the junior went 6-of-12 from the floor, 3-of-8 from three and 2-of-3 from the free throw line as he scored in double figures for the first time as a Cougar. 

Trevin Knell also reached double figures in Pope’s 100th win as a head coach at BYU, going 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. Spencer Johnson finished with 12 points to go along with five rebounds and two assists. 

BYU outshot the Knights 40.4-29.3 including nine makes from 3-point range. The Cougars were outrebounded by six, 44-38, but outscored the Knights in second chance points, 12-9. 

First Half
BYU jumped out to a 5-0 lead after forcing the Knights to turn the ball over on their first two possessions. Knell opened the scoring for the third time this season with a layup on an assist from Khalifa. Khalifa added to the lead two possessions later with a 3-pointer from the left side. 

UCF countered back with 11 of the next 13 points including a trio of 3-pointers to take a 11-7 lead in the first media timeout. Knell ended a more than three-minute scoring drought for the Cougars with his first three of the game to make it 11-10. The redshirt junior’s 3-pointer ignited a 9-0 run for the Cougars as they held UCF scoreless for close to six minutes. Johnson connected a corner three followed by a putback by Richie Saunders. 

A Dallin Hall layup gave BYU its biggest lead of the first half, 20-14, at the 7:08 mark before the Cougars went scoreless for more than three minutes to led UCF cut the lead tol one, 20-19, until Jaxson Robinson drove past his defender for a dunk.

Khalifa tied his season-high with nine points in the final minutes of the first half connecting on a pair of free throws. Johnson followed that up with a left-handed layup off a long rebound to make it 26-22 in favor of BYU. UCF would score the final points of the first half as the Cougars led at halftime for the 12th time this season, 26-24. 

Second Half
UCF scored the first three points of the half to retake the lead before the Cougars responded with a 6-0 run beginning with Knell’s second 3-pointer of the game. The redshirt junior connected from deep with UCF’s CJ Walker closing quickly. Two possessions later, Johnson found a wide-open Khalifa for his second triple of the game. 

Robinson extended the Cougars lead to a game-high seven points, 34-27 with a pull-up jumper on the left wing. They continued to trade baskets with Robinson connecting on his first 3-pointer of the game followed by a contested jumper from Jaylin Sellers. On the next possession, Knell connected on another three to push the lead to 40-33. 

UCF cut into the lead with an old-fashioned 3-point play followed by six straight points from the Cougars including a dunk from Khalifa. Johnson went 3-of-3 from the free throw line with 9:50 remaining in regulation to push BYU’s lead to 11, 49-38. 

Khalifa continued to punish the Knights from beyond the arc with his third 3-pointer of the game with 7:17 remaining in the game to make it a 57-44 game. UCF responded with six straight points to cut the lead back to single digits forcing a BYU timeout. Fousseyni Traore’s first basket of the game ended the Knight run as the junior’s floater hit nothing but net. 

The Knights went on a 8-0 run to cut the deficit to one, 59-58, with 1:07 left in the contest when BYU called a timeout. Dallin went 1-of-2 from the free throw line before forcing a UCF turnover to regain possession with a two-point advantage. Robinson missed the front end of the 1-and-1 but Khalifa met Darius Johnson to alter the shot, forcing a miss and grabbing the rebound. A Johnson free throw extended the lead to three, 61-58 with 10 seconds remaining but Sellers hit right iron and went out of bounds. 

BYU returns to the friendly confines of the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Jan. 13, when the Cougars host Iowa State at 7 p.m. MT. Watch the game live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ or listen to live play-by-play on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, Radio app or KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.

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