ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Aly Khalifa scored 17 points and blocked a potential go-ahead layup with 16 seconds left, helping No. 18 BYU hold off UCF 63-58 on Saturday for its first Big 12 win since joining the conference.

Trevin Knell had 14 points for BYU (13-3, 1-2), and Spencer Johnson finished with 12. Knell made four 3-pointers and Khalifa had three as the Cougars went 9 for 26 from deep.

“We were so close the last two games,” Khalifa said. “To see us win this game on the road in a tough environment against a great team, it feels like we belong in this conference, the best conference in the world. We feel like we can get a lot of wins in this conference.”

UCF (10-5, 1-2) wasted a strong performance by Ibrahima Diallo, who finished with 11 points, 19 rebounds and two blocked shots. Darius Johnson scored 18 points on 6-for-18 shooting, and Jaylin Sellers finished with 13 points.

The Knights, who were coming off a 65-60 victory over No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday, shot just 29.3% (17 for 58) from the field. They went 21 of 33 at the free-throw line, and they got just one point from their reserves.

“Just know that this league is really hard,” Diallo said. “It’s physical. You are going to have to play through fouls. For me, the thing I learned tonight is I need to play harder.”

UCF trailed 57-44 after Khalifa made a 3 with 7:17 left. But the Knights responded with a 14-2 run.

Sellers’ two foul shots trimmed BYU’s lead to 59-58 with 2 minutes left. After Richie Saunders missed a 3-point try for the Cougars, C.J. Walker missed a layup attempt for UCF.

The Knights had a couple more chances to tie or take the lead, but they came up empty each time. Dallin Hall, Spencer Johnson and Saunders combined for four foul shots to help the Cougars hang on.

“It’s what you look for in a big-time college basketball game is two teams spewing their heart out,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “We didn’t jump into this league to have easy victories. I think these ones you compete for are really awesome.”


BYU got back on track after dropping its first two games in the Big 12. It was Pope’s 100th victory in his fifth season at BYU.

UCF could not match its surprising victory over the Jayhawks, but it turned in another competitive performance against a tough Big 12 team.


BYU returns home Tuesday to take on Iowa State.

UCF starts a two-game Texas road trip on Wednesday at No. 25 Texas.


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