‘This Is My Moment:’ Aly Khalifa Lifts BYU While Fasting At Big 12 Tournament

Mar 13, 2024, 5:49 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – BYU center Aly Khalifa played through a Big 12 Tournament game during Ramadan.

Khalifa, a member of the Muslim faith, is participating in the fasting hours of Ramadan.

Aly Khalifa is participating in Ramadan fasting

That means from sunrise at 6:20 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., Khalifa is not eating any food or drinking water.

In Wednesday’s Big 12 Tournament game against UCF, Khalifa started for BYU, scoring eight points and dishing out five assists in 17 minutes of action.

Khalifa scored the game’s first points, knocking down a three-pointer.

During the 23 minutes Khalifa was on the bench, he did not grab any fluids to rehydrate.

Adjustments for Khalifa entering the Big 12 Tournament

Khalifa’s efforts helped BYU defeat UCF 87-72 to advance to the Big 12 Tournament Quarterfinals.

“I don’t think we changed much,” said Khalifa to KSL Sports. “We just do what we do and try to prepare the same way we prepare for the regular season but not change anything; just get focused.

“For me personally, I just obviously had to adjust a little bit. [Go to] sleep earlier to wake up early to eat and then go back to sleep and stuff like that. But I got the right group of people around me. They support me and help me be better.”

BYU coach Mark Pope was impressed his starting center

BYU head coach Mark Pope thought Khalifa, the former Charlotte 49er transfer, was excellent in the win over UCF.

“He was incredible, and he sure didn’t miss a beat to start the game. He threw one pass today, guys. That little pocket passed around the wrong side. I was like, what is happening here? I thought he was absolutely terrific,” said Pope. “He was great and, you know, he’s a believer. We’re all believers, so let’s go.”

Khalifa, who players and coaches in the program refer to as “The Egyptian Magician,” credits BYU’s support staff for helping him during his display of faith.

“It’s kind of easy from there just to talk to (Director of Basketball Operations) Nate Austin and the managers and Rob (Ramos) and [Michael Davie] and tell them what I need and what I don’t need and just communication, making my life easier.”

“Pretty hungry” after the game

After the game, Khalifa admitted with a smile he was “pretty hungry” after the game.

Khalifa battled in the post with UCF’s big man, Ibrahima Diallo. Khalifa and fellow big man teammate Fousseyni Traore’s efforts limited Diallo to zero points and zero rebounds.

“I’m just really excited. I thought I would be more tired. I didn’t really sleep well last night. And obviously, with fasting, I thought I was not going to do great. Then, I started off, and I was pretty excited. I was like, ‘This is my moment.’ That’s why I started really hot. It was pretty exciting.”

Next up for Khalifa and the BYU Cougars

Khalifa and the 20th-ranked BYU Cougars will have another morning game on Thursday in the Big 12 Tournament. They will be taking on the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Tip-off is at 10:30 a.m. (MT)/11:30 a.m. (CT) on ESPN2 and KSL NewsRadio.

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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‘This Is My Moment:’ Aly Khalifa Lifts BYU While Fasting At Big 12 Tournament