No. 18 BYU earns first Big 12 victory with win at UCF

Aly Khalifa scored 17 points to lead no. 18 BYU to a 63-58 victory over UCF in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday afternoon.

Trevin Knell added 14 points and Spencer Johnson chipped in 12 for the Cougars. BYU (13-3, 1-2 Big 12) earned its first victory in the Big 12 Conference. It was also the 100th victory for Mark Pope since becoming the Cougars’ head coach.

Darius Johnson led UCF with 18 points. Ibrahim Diallo collected a game-high 19 rebounds to go with 11 points and Jaylin Sellers added 13 points for the Knights. UCF (10-5, 1-2) finished with a 44-38 edge on rebounds but missed out on a second straight victory over a Top 25 opponent after shooting 29% from the field.

The Knights trimmed a 13-point deficit to one after Sellers hit a pair of free throws to cut BYU’s lead to 59-58 with 2:00 left. Darius Johnson and Sellers each missed potential tying baskets in the final seconds and the Cougars iced the win with a pair of free throws from Richie Saunders with 1.1 seconds left.

Finding a rhythm on offense proved difficult for UCF before halftime. The Knights shot just 26% from the field and went 5-of-13 from the free throw line over the first 20 minutes.

Darius Johnson and C.J. Walker combined to make 3-pointers on three straight possessions to give UCF an early 11-7 lead. The Knights soon cooled down, missing 10 straight shots and going scoreless over a six-minute stretch.

Their drought on offense opened a door for BYU to surge ahead. The Cougars did not waste their chance, going on a 9-0 run to take a 16-11 lead. Spencer Johnson and Saunders fueled the run with baskets on back-to-back possessions.

Extending the lead proved problematic. The Cougars endured their own dry spell on offense late in the first half, missing four straight shots while going four minutes without scoring.

BYU finally got on track early in the second half. After Walker gave UCF the lead back on a dunk, the Cougars answered with an 8-0 run capped by Jaxson Robinson’s jumper to go up 34-27.

Khalifa dunked the ball and buried a 3-pointer to help BYU extend its lead to 57-44 with 7:17 left.