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Noah Waterman, Jaxson Robinson lead No. 21 BYU to an 84-72 win over Texas

PROVO, Utah (AP) — Noah Waterman and Jaxson Robinson scored 17 points apiece to lead No. 21 BYU to an 84-72 victory over Texas on Saturday.

Fousseyni Traore had 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots, and Richie Saunders and Spencer Johnson added 11 points apiece as the Cougars (15-5, 3-4 Big 12) snapped a two-game losing streak. BYU shot 64% from the field and outscored Texas 40-26 in the paint.

The 40 points in the paint were the most BYU scored against a Big 12 opponent this season.

“They were really cautious about us shooting,” Waterman said. “They were really top locking us, so we just exposed them with backdoors, late cuts, and things like that.”

Dylan Disu led the Longhorns with 19 points. Chendall Weaver added 15 points and Max Abmas finished with 12. Texas (14-6, 3-4) scored 17 points off 16 BYU turnovers, yet trailed the entire second half.

The Longhorns also limited the Cougars to 17 3-point field goal attempts — a season-low for BYU — but could not string together enough stops when it mattered to capitalize on effective perimeter defense.

“Our goal was to make them take tough 2s and take the 3s away, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that,” Texas coach Rodney Terry said. “At times, we got spread out a little bit and they hurt us in the paint with their cuts and their passing ability.”

BYU broke open a close game with hot shooting in the second half. The Cougars made nine consecutive baskets to build a 72-55 lead with 8:30 remaining. Robinson and Traore each had three baskets in the run.

Texas never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.

BYU has led at halftime in six of seven Big 12 games so far, but the Cougars have regularly blown those leads and lost three of those contests after slow starts in the second half. Their second-half performance against the Longhorns went against that trend.

“We’re always locked in,” Robinson said. “Things don’t always go our way, but I think tonight we were really dialed in just in the aspect of defense. Transition defense. Defensive rebounding. That was our main focus and it just led to more offensive points.”

BYU outscored Texas 18-0 in the paint in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Cougars attacked the rim and went on a 12-2 run. Saunders capped the outburst with a dunk off a steal, giving BYU a 26-21 lead.

Robinson accounted for three of five baskets in a later 11-2 run that extended the Cougars’ lead to 41-31. Texas countered with five straight baskets, punctuated by a jumper from Abmas, cutting the deficit to a point at 42-41 just before halftime.

That’s as good as it got for the Longhorns, who trailed over the game’s final 30 minutes after the Cougars made 14 of their first 17 shots in the second half.

“They made us do something different and the guys did their best job trying to execute it,” BYU coach Mark Pope said.

BIG PICTURE

Texas struggled on interior defense while frequently pressuring the perimeter and left open lanes for BYU to drive to the basket on many possessions.

BYU did not settle for simply tossing up deep 3-pointers early in the shot clock, and instead worked to create higher percentage shots. It helped the Cougars find an early rhythm on offense.

UP NEXT

Texas: Hosts Houston on Monday.

BYU: Visits West Virginia on Saturday.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball