Johnson’s 28 points power No. 20 BYU past No. 24 Iowa State in 87-72 win

Spencer Johnson scored a career-high 28 points as No. 20 BYU men’s basketball rode a 48-point second half on its way to an 87-72 win over No. 24 Iowa State on Tuesday night at the Marriott Center.


PROVO, Utah — Spencer Johnson scored a career-high 28 points as No. 20 BYU men’s basketball rode a 48-point second half on its way to an 87-72 win over No. 24 Iowa State on Tuesday night at the Marriott Center. 

The win over the Cyclones boosts BYU to 14-3 on the season and 2-2 in Big 12 play.

“Our guys were really impressive tonight against a really good Iowa State team,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “I’m proud of our guys’ togetherness, their confidence and refusal to second-guess their decisions in real time. That was extraordinary tonight against pressure.”

Johnson’s 28 points came on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range. The senior from American Fork also recorded nine rebounds and five assists.

Four more Cougars joined Johnson in double figures.

Noah Waterman went 7-of-8 from the free throw line on his way to 18 points. Jaxson Robinson and Richie Saunders scored 15 and 12 points, respectively. After just two points in the first half, Dallin Hall roared to life in the second to total 11 points for the game as he shot 4-of-4 from the field along with five rebounds, eight assists and two steals.

While Aly Khalifa scored only a single bucket, the dynamic center helped the Cougars with nine rebounds, four assists and a block.

As a team, BYU assisted on 21 of 27 made field goals and shot 47 percent from the field for the game while Iowa State shot 44 percent. Three-pointers and fastbreak points were a difference-maker for the Cougars. BYU shot 37 percent from beyond the arc while holding Iowa State to 29 percent. The Cougars outscored the Cyclones 21-8 in the fastbreak and snagged seven steals.

BYU’s 36 rebounds edged Iowa State’s 34 and 13 forced turnovers helped the Cougars’ cause as well. BYU won the whistle as well, with 20 free throw makes on 24 trips to the line. The Cyclones converted on 16 of 25 free throw attempts. 

First Half
A hotly contested first half saw BYU and Iowa State battle to the tune of four ties and 10 lead changes with Johnson and Waterman leading the way for the Cougars.

Both teams started out hot, shooting 63 percent from the field over the game’s first five minutes.

BYU got its scoring started with Aly Khalifa dishing to Johnson for an open lay-in at the rim, then went up 8-5 after consecutive 3-pointers from Waterman. The Cougars turned defense into offense moments later with Waterman stifling a Cyclone drive to the basket and forcing an errant pass into the hands of Hall. The BYU point guard did the rest, speeding the ball down floor for a deuce. 

A transition triple from Johnson gave BYU it’s third 3-pointer of the game and a 13-12 lead at the 14:34 mark of the half.

BYU weathered a mid-half turnover bout with three-straight field goals from Johnson and found itself down 25-24 with 6:39 until the break. The Cougars reclaimed the lead for the remainder of the half and Johnson was yet again at the middle of the momentum swing.

BYU held Iowa State to one point over three possessions with a foul drawn by Johnson, steal from Saunders and block from Atiki Ally Atiki. The Saunders steal turned into three points the other way for the Cougars with Robinson kicking to Johnson in the fastbreak for another transition 3-pointer.

A second Saunders steal became two points for Johnson at the free throw line before BYU moved to a half-high 37-30 lead with triples from Robinson and Johnson as well as two more Johnson free throws.

Khalifa helped BYU take a 39-35 lead to the locker room as he slung a pass to a cutting Saunders for a quick two at the rim.

While Iowa State outshot BYU 54-39 percent in the first half, the Cougars used 3-pointers, fastbreak points, free throw shooting and rebounding to hold the advantage at the break.

BYU knocked down seven triples to the Cyclones’ three and made eight of 11 attempts from the charity stripe to the visitors’ 2-of-4. The Cougars scored 10 points off eight Iowa State turnovers and 13 total fastbreak points while also outrebounding the Cyclones 20-14 in the opening period.

Johnson led BYU with a single-half career-high 19 points while Waterman added eight.

Second Half
BYU took its first double-digit lead of the game four minutes into the second half with strong play from Waterman and Hall alongside continued trips to the free throw line.

Waterman scored the Cougars’ first four points of the half with a two-for-two trip the line followed by a dunk off a bounce pass from Khalifa.

Hall put a premature stop to back-to-back Iowa State possessions as he drew a charge then forced a jump ball to return the ball to BYU. A pair of Robinson free throws and quick-trigger triple from Hall capped a three-minute 8-0 run that put the Cougars up 49-39.

The Cyclones cut the BYU lead to six before scores from Saunders, Khalifa and a transition triple from Hall put the Cougars back up 56-45 by the 12:47 mark of the half. Three-straight two-for-two trips to the line and an Atiki block turned Johnson fastbreak bucket put BYU up 64-48 with 10 minutes to play.

The Cougars didn’t look back from there as they used a game-closing barrage of three-pointers from Johnson, Hall, Waterman and Robinson to lead by a game-high 24 points at 87-63 in the closing minutes.

BYU shot a blistering 60 percent from the field in the second half and held the Cyclones to 36 percent. The Cougars drained six second-half 3-pointers and limited Iowa State to 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.

While the Cyclones took 21 second-half free throws to BYU’s 13, the Cougars shot 12-of-13 from the line to Iowa State’s 14-of-21.

BYU is back on the road Saturday for a matchup with No. 25 Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. The Cougars and Red Raiders will tip off from United Supermarkets Arena at 5 p.m. CST. Watch live on ESPN2 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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