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3 keys to BYU’s win over UCF in the Cougars’ first-ever Big 12 basketball tournament game

Brigham Young Cougars' center Aly Khalifa (50) shoots over UCF Knights forward Thierno Sylla (31) during the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

KANSAS CITY — BYU used a torrid start and its usual deftness from the 3-point line to rout UCF 87-73 Wednesday morning in a Big 12 tournament second-round game.

The Cougars took an early 14-0 lead and never trailed in their first-ever Big 12 tournament game. They shot 47% from the 3-point line (14 of 30) and from the field (25 of 53) and got 36 points from their bench.

The No. 20 Cougars improved to 23-9, while UCF — which routed Oklahoma State on Tuesday to reach the second round, fell to 17-15.

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Brigham Young Cougars guard Dallin Hall (30) celebrates the win over UCF during the Big 12 conference championship in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Fousseyni Traore (45) is fouled by UCF Knights guard Antwann Jones (1) during the Big 12 conference championship in Kansas City on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars guard Spencer Johnson (20) defends UCF Knights guard Jaylin Sellers (24) during the Big 12 conference championship in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Waterman (0) looks to shoot on the defense UCF Knights guard Antwann Jones (1) during the Big 12 conference championship in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars guard Richie Saunders (15) drives during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars guard Dallin Hall (30) drives during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars fans cheer during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars guard Jaxson Robinson (2) and UCF Knights guard Antwann Jones (1) compete for the ball during the Big 12 conference championship in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars defend UCF Knights forward Thierno Sylla (31) during the Big 12 conference championship in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars players celebrate a 3-pointer at the end of the game during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope calls a play during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Waterman (0) defends UCF Knights forward C.J. Walker (21) during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Waterman (0) dunks during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars huddle pregame during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Fousseyni Traore (45) competes for the rebound during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars center Aly Khalifa (50) celebrates a 3-pointer during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Waterman (0) hits a 3-pointer during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars guard Spencer Johnson (20) drives against UCF Knights guard Jaylin Sellers (24) during the Big 12 conference championship in Kansas City on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Fousseyni Traore (45) and Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Waterman (0) compete for the rebound during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars guard Richie Saunders (15) celebrates a 3-pointer during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars leave the court pregame during the Big 12 conference championship against UCF in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. BYU won 87-73.
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Brigham Young Cougars center Aly Khalifa (50) celebrates a 3-pointer during the Big 12 conference tournament against UCF in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Fousseyni Traore (45) tried to shoot over UCF Knights forward Thierno Sylla (31) during the Big 12 conference tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
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Young BYU fans get a high five from the team prior to the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
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DJ Spencer Davis entertains with a BYU and UCF record during the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
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Brigham Young Cougars guard Richie Saunders (15) warms up prior to the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Waterman (0) and Brigham Young Cougars forward Fousseyni Traore (45) try to rebound against UCF during the Big 12 conference tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

Here are three keys to BYU’s first Big 12 tournament win:

• It was feared that BYU would get off to a slow start, after the Knights played Tuesday and the Cougars were unfamiliar with the arena. But the opposite happened. BYU jumped out to a 14-0 lead, as Aly Khalifa, Dallin Hall and Trevin Knell all hit 3-pointers in the opening minutes. BYU took a 34-16 lead on two Spencer Johnson free throws with 6:30 left in the first half, but back-to-back turnovers slowed their flow and the Knights pulled within nine at halftime.

• UCF’s Darius Johnson had a career-high 33 points in UCF’s win at TCU last week, and picked up where he left off at T-Mobile Center. Johnson almost single-handedly brought UCF back Wednesday, scoring 32 points, including 19 in the second half. Only six Knights scored, however, and UCF shot 39% from the field.

• Scoring balance was BYU’s calling card, as it has been all season. Fouss Traore led BYU with 14, while Dallin Hall and Richie Saunders added 13 apiece and Trevin Knell chipped in 12. Noah Waterman, Spencer Johnson, Aly Khalifa and Jaxson Robinson all had eight or more.

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Brigham Young Cougars forward Fousseyni Traore (45) tried to shoot over UCF Knights forward Thierno Sylla (31) during the Big 12 conference tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.