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Feb 3, 2024 8:27 pm

No. 22 BYU overcomes slow start, knocks off West Virginia

Fousseyni Traore tallied 24 points and nine rebounds to lead No. 22 BYU to an 86-73 victory over West Virginia on Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.

Richie Saunders scored 17 points, Spencer Johnson added 15 and Jaxson Robinson chipped in 12 for the Cougars (16-5, 4-4 Big 12). Dallin Hall dished out a career-high 12 assists.

BYU never trailed in the second half and shot 54.8 percent from the field in the period to earn its second road win in Big 12 Conference play.

Kerr Kriisa led the Mountaineers (8-14, 3-6) with 23 points. Jesse Edwards tallied 16 points and RaeQuan Battle tacked on 14 as West Virginia lost for the third time in four games.

Cougars center Aly Khalifa sat out with an illness and did not make the trip to Morgantown. Without one of its top passers on the floor, BYU took some time to adjust on offense.

The Cougars started 0-for-7 from beyond the arc and did not score their first 3-pointer until Saunders and Robinson knocked down back-to-back corner threes to put BYU up 22-17 with 8:53 left in the first half.

Traore played with energy and power on both ends of the floor to help BYU weather its shooting struggles. He scored the Cougars’ first four baskets and tallied 12 points by halftime.

After West Virginia tied things up on a layup from Pat Suemnick, BYU closed the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 38-29 halftime lead. Saunders capped the surge with back-to-back 3-pointers, and the Cougars held the Mountaineers to a single basket over the final 5:11 of the half.

BYU picked up where it left off after halftime. The Cougars scored 18 points over a stretch of 6:16, culminating in a three-point play from Saunders, to extend their lead to 56-39.

Kriisa knocked down three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws to help West Virginia trim the deficit to single digits at 62-55 with 9:37 remaining. The Mountaineers later cut it to 70-65 on two more free throws from Battle but could not draw closer.

–Field Level Media

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