PROVO, Utah (AP) — Fousseyni Traore scored 14 points and had eight rebounds to lead No. 21 BYU to a 72-66 victory over Kansas State on Saturday night.
Spencer Johnson and Jaxson Robinson added 12 points apiece for the Cougars (17-6, 5-5 Big 12) while Noah Waterman chipped in 11 points and Trevin Knell added 10. Aly Khalifa had a team-high six assists in his return to the lineup following a two-game absence because of the flu.
Arthur Kaluma led the Wildcats (15-9, 5-6) with 18 points and eight rebounds and Cam Carter added 14 points.
BYU led by 17 points in the second half, but Kansas State pulled within 66-64 with a run that included Kaluma’s 3-pointer with 1:11 left. Kaluma returned to help lead the rally after going to the locker room earlier in the second half with an ankle injury.
Robinson and Johnson countered with baskets in the final minute to help BYU keep the Wildcats from completing the comeback.
“We needed both of those buckets,” Robinson said. “Obviously, it all came down to the defensive end. We forced 16 turnovers and only turned the ball over seven times. Can’t complain about that.”
The Cougars missed five shots and three free throws over a five-minute stretch to open the door for Kansas State to rally.
“We just pressured the ball a lot more and picked up a little higher,” Kaluma said. “Went into a little bit of a press. I feel like we just had more energy.”
Kansas State struggled to find any consistent offensive rhythm during the first half. The Wildcats committed nine turnovers and scored one field goal over the final four minutes before halftime.
BYU scored 14 points off 16 Kansas State turnovers by game’s end.
“We said this was going to be a 15-round fight,” Kansas State coach Jerome Tang said. “The problem is they got to throw the last punch tonight instead of us.”
BYU did not fully capitalize on its tough first-half defense. The Cougars went 2 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half while also missing a few layups. Still, BYU built a 36-27 halftime lead by attacking the rim with Traore doing the most damage inside.
Tylor Perry’s flagrant foul on Traore was a turning point in the first half. Traore hit two free throws and made a layup to turn a two-point BYU lead into a six-point advantage.
Waterman and Johnson made back-to-back 3-pointers to extend BYU’s lead to 45-32 early in the second half. The Cougars pulled ahead 58-41 on Robinson’s 3-pointer.
BYU’s offense stagnated a bit late in the second half when the team missed open looks from the perimeter and at the rim.
“We got to the rim the way we wanted to. We got shots we wanted,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “I liked us offensively. You’re going to go through little spells where things don’t go in and that’s why you win games defensively.”
Kansas State outrebounded BYU 42-34.
Kansas State endured too many stretches with too many missed shots and turnovers to avoid losing its fifth straight road game.
BYU bullied Kansas State around the rim and applied enough defensive pressure to overcome a below-average shooting night from the perimeter.
Kansas State hosts TCU on Saturday.
BYU hosts UCF on Tuesday night.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball