BYU overcomes 17-point halftime deficit, defeats TCU 87-75

BYU scored 58 points in the second half to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit in its 87-75 victory over TCU Saturday night in Provo.


PROVO, Utah – After trailing by 17 at halftime, BYU scored 58 points in the second half to defeat TCU 87-75 in front a sold out Marriott Center on Saturday evening. 

“Sometimes we mistake toughness for yelling, screaming, fouling, grabbing and punching but real toughness is the ability to focus when everything around you is going sideways and you don’t even feel right yourself," head coach Mark Pope said. "These guys were brilliant with their toughness. We are learning, they are getting more confident and this is the time in the season when toughness matters.” 

The Cougars overcame a double digit halftime deficit under Pope for a third time and first at the Marriott Center erasing the 17-point deficit late in the second half on five-straight points from Richie Saunders including a 3-pointer in front of the BYU bench. After shooting 7.7 percent from beyond the arc in the first half, BYU went 8-of-15 from 3-point range as they outscored the Horned Frogs 58-29 over the final 20 minutes. 

Fousseyni Traore and Trevin Knell combined for 41 points becoming the third Cougar duo to finish with 20 or more points each in a single game this season. Traore finished with 21 points going 8-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-8 from the free throw line to go along with seven rebounds and a block. Knell had 20 points as the junior from North Salt Lake went 7-of-13 from the floor and knocked down four of his 10 3-point attempts. 

Saunders scored in double figures for the 12th time this season finishing with 11 points and tying a season-high with seven rebounds. Dallin Hall also reached double figures for the second consecutive game finishing with 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds. 

First Half
The Cougars scored their first eight points of the game in the paint before Hall knocked down the first of his three 3-pointers to give BYU an 11-10 lead four minutes into the contest. TCU's Trevian Tennyson made an immediate impact off the bench knocking down a pair of 3-pointers to give the Horned Frogs a five-point advantage, 23-18, heading into a media timeout. Layups from Traore and Jaxson Robinson cut the deficit to one possesion a few minutes later before TCU responded with a 9-0 run to push its lead to double figures for the first time. 

BYU turnovers and TCU free throws saw the deficit grow to 16, 41-25, before Saunders hit a jumper forcing a TCU timeout. Avery Anderson scored four of the Horned Frogs final six points of the half as TCU led 46-29 at halftime. 

The Cougars shot 40.0 percent from the flooor, 7.7 percent from three 44.4 percent from the free throw line. TCU also turned eight offensive rebounds into six second chance points and had 17 fast break points in the opening 20 minutes. 

Second Half
A Knell 3-pointer on BYU's first possesoin of the second half set the tone for the rest of the game as the junior knocked down his first triple of the game from the corner. TCU countered to push the lead back to 16 points, 50-34, on Emanuel MIller's fast break dunk before the Cougars went on a 15-0 run over the next four minutes to make it a one-point game. Traore converted an old-fasthioned 3-point play followed by an offensive putback from Saunders and 3-pointer from Knell. Another post touch from Traore resulted in points forcing a TCU timeout with BYU trailing 50-49 with 12:53 remaining in the game.

Out of the timeout, TCU scored seven straight points including five from JaKobe Coles. It was a seven-point deficict following a 3-point play from Tennyson which then sparked another BYU run, this time the Cougars scored 12 straight points to take their first lead since early in the first half. Traore continued to cause problems in the paint with another two points followed by Robinson's three to push his streak of 3-pointers to a career-best 16 games. Saunders tied the game at 62-62 with a floater in the lane followed by a 3-pointer following another TCU timeout. 

Jameer Nelson Jr. ended the BYU run with a contested layup to make it 65-62 but that would be the closest BYU would allow the Horned Frogs to get going on an 8-0 run to put the game out of reach. Spencer Johnson started the run with a bucket in the paint followed by a pair of free throws from Robinson. Following two defensive stops, Saunders was fouled after pulling down one of his three offensive rebounds in the game. He would proceed to make both free throws with Robinson finishing the run with a jumper. Johnson found a wide open Hall for a 3-pointer to put the Cougars up 13, 82-69, with less than three minutes remaining, and the Cougars would on from there.. 

The Cougars head east to face No. 8 Iowa State Wednesday night at the James H. Hilton Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT with coverage on ESPN2 and live play-by-play on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, Radio app or KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.