BYU Basketball falls apart against Texas Tech

Not even a 16-point halftime lead was enough for BYU in Lubbock, as the the Cougars lost another tight conference game to Texas Tech, 85-78.

Mark Pope’s squad simply fell apart in the second half. The Red Raider’s athleticism, defensive pressure, and home-court advantage came alive and carried Texas Tech to the win.

The beginning of the game however, was all BYU. The Cougars quickly jumped out to a 10-point lead, and were suffocating Texas Tech’s offense.

The Cougars looked like they couldn’t miss. Aly Khalifa was dropping his usual dimes, Trevin Knell was back and nailing threes, and Richie Saunders was leading all scorers with 13. BYU was 10 of 20 from beyond the arc, shot 54.5% from the field, and had limited their turnovers to just four. It was one of their most impressive halves of the season.

Quite literally everything changed the second the Cougars stepped out of the locker room for the second 20 minutes. It was as if, rather than talk strategy, BYU spent the break celebrating their stellar first half. Now we all know that’s not true, but the Cougars came out flatter than a college sophomore’s dorm pillow.

In a matter of just under seven minutes, BYU’s 16-point lead had dissipated to just two.

The Cougars shot 3 of 19 from three, 35% from the field, turned the ball over on just under a quarter of all their possessions. Meanwhile, Texas Tech’s Pop Isaacs was busy scoring at will, notching 23 points in the second half alone.

Isaacs torched the Cougars from all three levels, and BYU’s defense refused to adjust. Rather than put extra emphasis on the Red Raiders’ best player, the coaching staff opted to stick with man-to-man and watch BYU’s players get beat to the basket play after play. When the defense finally decided to switch to a 1-3-1, it just led to an open Texas Tech three.

With all the momentum shifted the Red Raiders’ way, and BYU going completely cold from the field, Texas Tech gained the lead from the first time in the game with 7:05 left to play.

BYU’s one and only bright spot in the second half hails from Egypt and sports a headband despite it not holding back any hair. Khalifa single-handedly kept the Cougars in the game by scoring 14 straight for BYU. The Cougars got to a point offensively where the ball simply had to be in Khalifa’s hands or there would simply be no points. Seriously. From the 14:22 mark to the 1:59 mark, Khalifa was the only BYU player to put the ball through the hoop.

Khalifa’s 21-point, seven-rebound, and three-assist effort wouldn’t be enough, as Texas Tech pulled away in the final minutes.

BYU falls to 2-3 in conference play and 14-4 overall. This was the Cougars’ one and only meeting with Texas Tech this season.

The Cougars next test will be against No. 5 Houston, Tuesday at the Marriott Center.

Chase is the sports editor for The Daily Universe. Follow him on X: @Chase_rogers0

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