Five Cougars score in double figures in 84-72 win over Texas

No. 21 BYU defeated Texas 84-72 behind its best shooting performance in nearly three years in front of a sellout crowd of 17,978 at the Marriott Center on Saturday afternoon.


PROVO, Utah - No. 21 BYU defeated Texas 84-72 behind its best shooting performance in nearly three years in front of a sellout crowd of 17,978 at the Marriott Center on Saturday afternoon.

“Credit to Texas. They had a game plan they were committed to, and they said 'we're not going to let you beat us the way that you want to beat us.' They really did an incredible job, better than anybody else that we've faced so far," said head coach Mark Pope. "In terms of being committed to that, I was really proud of the way our guys responded.”

BYU shot a blistering 64.0 percent from the floor, including 41.2 percent from deep and 86.7 percent from the free throw line. The Cougars registered 40 points in the paint, recorded 16 assists and led for 30:17 and the entire second half.

Five Cougars scored in double figures, led by Noah Waterman and Jaxson Robinson’s 17 points apiece as both shot over 63 percent on 11 shot attempts. Waterman led the team from beyond the arc on 3-of-6 shooting. Aly Khalifa and Fousseyni Traore proved crucial as Khalifa notched a team-high eight assists and Traore had 16 points, six rebounds and two blocks off the bench.

Spencer Johnson and Richie Saunders registered 11 points each.

BYU held Texas to a 44.3 percent clip from the floor, including 35.7 percent in the second half. BYU’s 40 points in the paint outmatched the Longhorns’ 26. The decisive win came despite 16 turnovers for the Cougars, compared to just seven committed by Texas.

First Half
Both teams started hot from the field as BYU went 6-of-10 and Texas 6-of-8 in the first six minutes, including 4-of-4 from deep. Despite an 0-of-3 start beyond the arc, BYU kept pace behind Waterman’s six points before Johnson tipped in his own miss and Robinson hitting a turnaround mid-range jumper. With 13:40 remaining, BYU trailed 16-12 after the first media timeout.

Later, the Longhorns capitalized on a turnover with a second-chance 3-point make from Tyrese Hunter to make it 19-14.

BYU responded with a 12-2 run over the next 2:22. Strong interior defense and rebounding proved key, in addition to two forced turnovers. Richie Saunders hit a quick, catch-and-shoot triple in the corner, followed by a layup from Traore. Dallin Hall then made a driving layup while being fouled, bringing the Marriott Center crowd to its feet. On the Longhorns’ next possession, Johnson swiped for a steal and quickly found Saunders for a two-handed transition flush to make it 26-21.

The next several minutes went back-and-forth, as a post-up, right-handed turnaround from Traore off the glass was followed by Khalifa threading the needle to a wide-open Robinson for a layup. BYU’s next offensive series saw Robinson knock down a triple from the top of the key to put the Cougars up 33-29 with 5:24 to go.

Another 8-2 run gave BYU a 10-point lead at 41-31. Hall began the run with another and-one drive, driving strong in the midst of three defenders and scoring off the glass after a double pump. Following a rare Khalifa turnover and Longhorn transition alley-oop, Noah Waterman converted a 3-pointer. Immediately following a Texas miss, Khalifa threaded the needle to Robinson for a one-handed reverse layup.

The final three minutes saw the Longhorns answer with aggressive drives, scoring eight of their final 10 points in the paint. With the double-digit Cougar lead sliced to just one at 42-41, Spencer Johnson closed the half with an isolation drive and bucket as time expired, putting BYU up 44-41 headed to the locker room.

Second Half
Following a layup by Texas' Max Abmas on the first possession, BYU seized early momentum, storming to an 10-0 run to claim its largest lead of the afternoon at 54-43. Two 3-pointers from Waterman and Johnson kickstarted the run, followed by a fast break lay-in from Robinson. After a strong block by Robinson, Hall found an open Johnson in a cross-court pass, leading to a layup with 17:09 remaining.

Texas countered with another second-chance 3-pointer and authoritative one-handed tip-in dunk to trim the BYU lead to eight at 58-50 with 14:08 to go.

Up 65-55, Traore posted up once again, hoisting up a hook shot that bounced around before rolling in. Both teams traded giveaways before Jaxson Robinson hit a jumper on the left wing. Traore then went up strong to block Abmas as Johnson gathered and pushed the pace to find Saunders for a transition 3-pointer, putting the Cougars comfortably ahead at 72-55.

After the Longhorns went on a quick 5-0 run to make it 72-60 with 7:18 to go, Khalifa displayed court vision once again, dicing a pass to a cutting Waterman for a dunk. Up 74-61 with 6:21 left, the Cougars began to slow the pace. Upping their defensive intensity, the Longhorns cut the score to single digits with 4:24 remaining at 76-67, but Traore answered with a hook shot on a possession that BYU took valuable time off the clock.

Later, with BYU up 10 with 2:43 remaining, BYU notched three offensive rebounds to take about a minute off the clock, setting up Traore’s two made free throws with under a minute remaining as the Cougars would go on to win 84-72.

The Cougars are on the road next, traveling to Morgantown for a showdown at West Virginia next Saturday, Feb. 3 at 6:00 p.m. EST. 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.