Aly Khalifa turned No. 11 Baylor inside out in BYU’s 78-71 win Tuesday night.

Khalifa had Bear defenders baffled, crosseyed and confused.

They tried to get physical with him.

They left him alone at times.

They couldn’t stop his passes — darts that led to seven assists with zero turnovers.

Khalifa turned into a bomber on a BYU team whose trademark calling card is shooting bombs.

He led all scorers on the court with 11 at halftime.

“It’s probably the first day he’s felt like a human being,” said head coach Mark Pope, referencing Khalifa being sick for weeks.

“Teams have been pressuring me and I’ve just tried to find ways to make plays on offense and be aggressive,” said Khalifa.

He finished with 14 points and made four of his six 3-point attempts. He was in Jaxson Robinson mode.

He had more rebounds (7) than anybody on Baylor’s team other than forward Jalen Bridges, who had eight. He had one more than Baylor big man Yves Missi.

Baylor is a team that features very tall, athletic stars, definitely an upper-echelon Big 12 program. The Bears rank No. 4 in the nation in offense.

Khalifa haunted them from start to finish.

The seven-point win in the Marriott Center will go down as a classic, a win over a team the Cougars had lost four-in-a-row to over the years, including the last meeting in Waco back in January,

The win lifts BYU to 19-7 overall and 7-6 in league play. The Bears fell to 19-7 and 8-5.

Khalifa’s antics shared the glory with a remarkable effort by BYU’s defense.

BYU was fresh off horrible defensive performances in a win over UCF at home and a complete breakdown in a loss to the Big 12’s last-place team, Oklahoma State, in Stillwater last Saturday,

Baylor brought in one of the most explosive offenses in the Big 12 and the nation with two NBA draft picks on the court. It looked like a disaster waiting to happen for the Cougars.

But this was a solid defensive effort for Mark Pope’s team. After Baylor made 4 treys in the first half, they had only one more the rest of the game. Baylor came in with six wins in their last seven.  

BYU out-rebounded Baylor 39-30, had a 16-7 advantage in offensive rebounds and 20-4 advantage in second-chance points thanks to Spencer Johnson’s nine rebounds. BYU earned a 26-15 advantage in bench scoring, thanks to 13 from Robinson and eight from Richie Saunders.

The Cougars had 29 field goals on 20 assists with just seven turnovers.

Head coach Mark Pope credited assistant coach Kahil Fennell for firing up BYU’s defense, telling a KSL Network post-game audience that Fennell has hardly slept since the Cougar loss at Oklahoma State.

Knell said Fennell challenged the team to find their why — why they play and who they play for and then go out and play for that motivation.

“This league makes your mind explode,” said Pope who praised his team as a player-led squad who fixed the defensive challenges witnessed at OSU last Saturday.

“It’s a credit to our team to come back. They care, they want and they came out and played hard. I love the way they responded with confidence and on their toes, not in second-guessing and wondering,” said Pope.

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Baylor went three for three from distance to open the game and took a nine-point lead. The Cougars came charging back with Khalifa leading the way with 11 at halftime. At one point in that first half Robinson, Trevin Knell and Waterman had a combined three of 12 effort from beyond the 3-point line.

Kahlifa had one less 3-point bucket than Baylor’s outstanding 3-point shooting team.

It was that kind of night for the big Egyptian.