No. 20 BYU Earns First-Ever Big 12 Tournament Win In Wire-To-Wire Victory Over UCF

Mar 13, 2024, 1:00 PM | Updated: 5:58 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – BYU basketball ensured the third time wasn’t the charm for UCF in the Big 12 Tournament.

The 20th-ranked Cougars defeated UCF 87-73 in a wire-to-wire victory.

It’s BYU’s first-ever win at the Big 12 Tournament.

BYU jumped on UCF early, building a 21-3 lead. They never trailed in the wire-to-wire victory despite the best efforts from UCF guard Darius Johnson, who scored 32 points, one shy of a career-high to lead all scorers.

But BYU’s balanced attack proved too much for UCF as eight players for BYU scored at least eight points.

BYU’s leading scorer was Fousseyni Traore with 14 points.

First Half: BYU jumps out to a fast start over UCF

16:54 – One of the best starts you’ll ever find from a BYU basketball team in any tournament game. BYU hit three 3-pointers out of the gates to build an early lead on the UCF Knights.

The Cougars also got a free possession after UCF big man Ibrahima Diallo threw an elbow at Dallin Hall’s face. BYU 11, UCF 0.

15:34 – The hot shooting continued for BYU as Aly Khalifa hit a three. Spencer Johnson nearly had another fall, but it rolled off the rim.

The Knights began applying full-court pressure to ease BYU’s onslaught in the opening minutes.

UCF’s Jaylin Sellers got the Knights on the board at the first media timeout with an and-one opportunity. BYU 14, UCF 2.

14:04 – UCF coach Johnny Dawkins had to call another timeout after Fousseyni Traore grabbed an offensive rebound off a Jaxson Robinson missed three to extend the lead to 18 points.

Robinson got in the three-point shooting act earlier, knocking down his first 3-point attempt. BYU 21, UCF 3.

11:35 – UCF began settling in as BYU went on a 2:37 stretch without a field goal.

BYU could not generate much offense after Pope subbed out Dallin Hall for Trey Stewart. BYU 22, UCF 8.

11:06 – Officials called an offensive foul on Shemarri Allen that negated a three-pointer for the Knights. It was a controversial call that caused a review, and after the reviews, the refs stayed with the call. BYU 22, UCF 8.

6:30—Dallin Hall returned to the game after the 11:06 review but picked up his second foul a minute later.

BYU’s offense was neutral for a few minutes as Aly Khalifa half-armed a rushed floater.

But then the offense woke again after Khalifa found Waterman on a backdoor cut.

Then Jaxson Robinson side-stepped and knocked down a three, followed by Noah Waterman hitting another.

Everyone who has checked into the game for BYU already scored at least one point to this spot in the game. BYU 32, UCF 16.

3:58 – UCF was cut into the BYU lead at the free-throw line. Interestingly, despite some of the calls going UCF’s way, Knights guard Antwann Jones was not happy with referee Amy Bonner. He had to be held back by his teammates. BYU 36, UCF 23.

Half – BYU earned a four-point possession after UCF’s Shemarri Allen could Trevin Knell on a jump shot. The foul led to frustration from the UCF bench, resulting in them being called for a technical foul.

BYU knocked down all four free throws and built its lead to 15 points.

UCF stormed back to cut the halftime deficit to single-digits thanks to a pair of threes from Darius Johnson. Johnson led all scorers at the break with 13 points.

The UCF players started to feel some momentum swinging their way. A sign of that was when Antwann Jones did the Johnny Dawkins “Duke Slap” on the floor while on defense.

BYU shot 48% from three-point range in the first half.

The leading scorer for BYU in the first 20 minutes was Fousseyni Traore, who scored nine points. BYU 47, UCF 32.

Second Half: UCF makes a run, but BYU pulls away in the end

15:39 – Dallin Hall’s return to the floor after sitting on the bench for the final 10 minutes in the first half was a welcomed addition for BYU. Hall’s first shot attempt in the second half was a three-pointer.

UCF’s CJ Walker started strong in the second half, scoring the first six points for the Knights.

BYU subbed out Aly Khalifa at the 16:41 mark for Fousseyni Traore. Khalifa is observing Ramadan and is on a fast. BYU 57, UCF 48.

13:40 – UCF guard Darius Johnson was on fire. The senior leader hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut BYU’s lead down to three.

On Johnson’s second three, BYU guard Trevin Knell was called for a foul, so possession remained with the Knights. BYU 59, UCF 56.

11:09 – Richie Saunders comes through again for BYU when they need him the most.

In front of the courtside media table, Saunders gathered a pass he had to reach for on the side. Then fired away to put BYU back in front by 11.

Noah Waterman had a nice pump fake on the previous possession that sent Antwann Jones flying on a block attempt. BYU 67, UCF 56.

7:37 – Officials called a flagrant foul on UCF’s Thierno Sylla. BYU’s Aly Khalifa knocked down two free throws.

Then Darius Johnson for UCF continued his hot streak with a three, but Dallin Hall countered with a three of his own. BYU 74, UCF 59. 

5:45 – Richie Saunders did Richie Saunders things again in the Big 12 Tournament. Saunders knocked down a three-pointer that forced Johnny Dawkins to burn a timeout. BYU 77, UCF 62.

3:54 – Again, Saunders, without hesitation in transition, knocks down another three-pointer to counter Darius Johnson, who had an and-one out of the previous timeout. Saunders reached double figures (11) in scoring with that basket. BYU 80, UCF 68.


Up next for BYU basketball

BYU will play in the Quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament tomorrow against 4-seed Texas Tech.

Tip-off is at 10:30 a.m. (MT) on ESPN2 and KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM), with extended pregame beginning at 9 a.m. from Kansas City.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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No. 20 BYU Earns First-Ever Big 12 Tournament Win In Wire-To-Wire Victory Over UCF