No. 20 BYU falls to No. 25 Texas Tech, 85-78

No. 20 BYU saw its 16-point halftime lead evaporate in the final minutes in its 85-78 setback to No. 25 Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.


LUBBOCK, Texas - No. 20 BYU saw its 16-point halftime lead evaporate in the final minutes in its 85-78 setback to No. 25 Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. 

“Congratulations to Texas Tech, they made a tremendous effort in the second half and played terrific,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said.  “I’m proud of our guys. They worked hard and fought hard. We just couldn’t quite shore up the ship in the second half.”

Aly Khalifa scored half of BYU’s points in the second half as the junior finished with a season-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists. He went 9-of-17 from the floor, 2-of-8 from three and 1-of-2 from the free throw line. 

Richie Saunders scored in double figures for the eighth time this season as the sophomore scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half. In his first start of the season, Saunders went 6-of-9 from the floor, 2-of-2 from three and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe to go along with four rebounds and an assist. 

The Cougars shot 44.3 percent from the floor compared to 47.5 percent for Tech, who shot 63.0 percent in the second half. BYU won the rebounding battle, 42-32, with 16 offensive rebounds. They turned the ball over 12 times to only four steals on the defensive end. 

First Half
BYU jumped out to an early 10-0 lead as Jaxson Robinson opened the scoring for the Cougars with a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound. Khalifa knocked down a 3-pointer three possessions later with the junior assisting Saunders on the next trip down to give the Cougars a double digit advantage in the opening four minutes.

Fousseyni Traore got on the scoresheet on an offensive putback followed by an assist to Saunders on the next trip down to make it 17-6 in favor of the visitors forcing a Tech timeout. The teams traded 3-pointers with Townsend Tripple knocking down the first triple of his career from the corner. 

Robinson scored five straight for the Cougars to push the lead to 14, 27-13. The senior had no hesitation putting up a three off an offensive rebound before showing off his midrange game on the next possession. Trevin Knell, coming off the bench for the first time this season, knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give BYU a 33-18 advantage heading into the under 8-minute media timeout. 

Saunders scored seven straight points for the Cougars including a 3-pointer ending a 5-0 Tech run and pushing the Cougars lead back to double figures, 42-30. Dallin Hall knocked down his second triple of the game on a pullup before driving and finding a wide open Khalifa for BYU’s 10th three of the half  on the next trip down to push the Cougars lead to 48-32 at halftime.

Second Half
The Red Raiders opened the second half on a 9-0 run as the Cougars missed their first eight shots before Hall connected on BYU’s 11th 3-pointer of the night. The shooting woes continued as Tech went on another 7-0 run  to cut the Cougars lead to 55-53 with 11:42 remaining in the game. Khalifa ended the run with a free throw before scoring six straight points for the Cougars to make it 62-57.

An old-fashioned 3-point play from Tech following BYU’s fifth turnover cut it to a one possession game with under eight minutes remaining in regulation. Back-to-back turnovers from BYU allowed the Red Raiders to take their first lead of the game at 64-62. Khalifa continued to keep the Cougars afloat with a layup off an inbound play. 

Tech continued to score at will with a three from Pop Isaacs and a dunk from Warren Washington to make it 69-66 in favor of the Red Raiders. Khalifa eclipsed the 20-point mark for the first time as a Cougar with a layup at 3:39 but back-to-back 3-pointers from Isaacs push Tech’s lead to five, 75-70, with under three minutes remaining. 

Saunders scored for the first time in the second half with a 3-pointer in front of BYU’s bench to cut the deficit to four, 77-73. Johnson’s long jumper off a long defensive rebound made it a four-point game, 79-75. BYU countered a pair of free throws with Hall’s fourth 3-pointer of the game to make it 81-78. Tech would make four straight free throws to hand the Cougars its third loss of Big 12 play.

BYU returns to the friendly confines of the Marriott Center for two straight beginning with a showdown with No. 5 Houston on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. MT. Watch 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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