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BYU basketball bounces back with 20-point win at San Diego


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PROVO β€” BYU's towering posts terrorized San Diego, and the Cougars shared their way to a bounceback win on the road in West Coast Conference play Saturday night.

Fousseyni Traore had 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks; and Atiki Ally Atiki added a career-high 12 points, two rebounds and a block in a 68-48 road win over San Diego at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Jaxson Robinson supplied 3 points, four rebounds and a career-high six assists for BYU (13-6, 3-1 WCC). Rudi Williams supplied 13 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Spencer Johnson had 10 points and five rebounds in his first start since suffering a knee injury five weeks ago.

"I was really proud of Atiki tonight; I thought his poise was tremendous," BYU coach Mark Pope told BYU Radio. "He was a two-assist, zero-turnover guy against a team that is capable of putting him in a scramble situation. And only one foul on the night? He had a great night."

Gideon George added 9 points, five rebounds and two steals for BYU, which out-scored the Toreros' bench 29-0, assisted on 17-of-24 made baskets, and shot 51% from the field.

A couple of those assists came from Robinson throwing up a loose ball and watching bigs like Traore and Atiki make a play in career-best fashion.

"I'm happy for the man," Robinson told BYU Radio of Atiki. "It's great just being able to throw the ball up to someone like that. I haven't really had that in the past, and to have a coach like coach Pope who allows us to make those plays is awesome."

BYU led for all but two minutes of the game, taking control early with a 14-2 run in the first half and never looked back.

The Cougars scored 8 of their first 19 points in the paint and added the only two 3-pointers before back-to-back buckets by Williams gave BYU a 21-10 lead with 8:28 left in the first half.

"I'm really proud of the guys," said Pope, who improved to 4-0 against USD in his career with the Cougars. "For these guys to start three of the first four games in league play not on the road, I think we're the only ones to do that. To win three out of four is super impressive; I thought it was a terrific effort on the defensive end.

"The offense continues to be a work in progress β€” sometimes maddeningly β€” but defensively, I was super excited."

The 48 total points is a season-low for San Diego β€” by 10 points, the previous low being an 85-58 loss to Saint Mary's.

BYU shot 44% from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range, and led by as much as 27-10 following a 13-0 run en route to a halftime lead less than 48 hours after an upset loss at Loyola Marymount. The visitors held the Toreros to just 25% shooting, and overpowered San Diego 16-10 in the paint with a 16-12 edge on the defensive glass.

Atiki doubled his lob tally from Robinson as the Cougars built up their second-half lead as high as 20 points and cruised to the finish.

Motivated? You could say that.

"Conference play is tough," Robinson said. "You never know how is going to win, night in and night out. Just make sure you come to play every night is the biggest thing for us.

"It's a new battle, new team every single week," the Arkansas transfer added. "You just have to come in mentally and physically fresh, and make sure you come out to give every team your best shot."

Eric Williams Jr. had 14 points and eight rebounds to lead San Diego (8-10, 1-3 WCC), and Weber State transfer Sigu Sisoho Jawara added 10 points, four rebounds and three assists.

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A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has covered BYU for KSL.com since 2015, while also mixing in prep sports, education, and anything else his editors assign him to do.

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