The BYU Cougars defeated the West Virginia University Mountaineers 86-73 in Morgantown, West Virginia on Saturday.

With the win, BYU returns to .500 in Big 12 play, advancing to 4-4 16-5 overall.

Here are three storylines from Saturday’s duel.

Bend but don’t break

The second half of Saturday’s game had momentum swings.

BYU took a 56-39 lead with 13:44 remaining after Richie Saunders completed a three-point play.

Kerr Kriisa sparked a Mountaineers comeback with 13:02 remaining when he connected on a contested three-pointer from the top of the key. Kriisa brought the score to 62-55 with 9:37 remaining by knocking down two free throws.

RaeQuan Battle helped his team get within five points with 5:26 remaining in the game when he cashed two free throws and made the score 70-65.

Following Battle’s free throws, it would have been easy for the Cougars to allow the wheels to fall off and let another game slip away.

In previous games against Baylor and Texas Tech, the Cougars allowed second-half leads slip away and end in deflating losses. Saturday’s victory was a step in the right direction as they were able to settle down and stay the course to victory.

Trevin Knell stepped up and knocked down a three for BYU with 5:17 remaining. Jaxson Robinson stroked a three on the next possession and just like that, their lead was back to 11 points at 76-65.

The Cougars never looked back from that point.

Beyond the emotional victory, Saturday’s win had standing implications.

Mark Pope and his team now are back to .500 in the Big 12 with a 4-4 record.

Also on Saturday, the first-place University of Houston Cougars fell to the Kansas University Jayhawks. Houston and Kansas are now tied for the Big 12 lead at 6-3.

BYU’s win puts them 1.5 games out of first place.

Fouse on the loose

Since returning from injury, Fousseyni Traore has been a bright spot off the bench for the Cougars.

Aly Khalifa was sidelined due to injury on Saturday, which meant that Traore would need to shoulder a load of minutes for the team.

Traore thrived in his extra minutes, scoring the first eight points for BYU. He also provided some highlight-reel blocks to go with his statistical success. He played a season-high 31 minutes on Saturday and scored a season-high 24 points while adding nine rebounds.

It is unknown how long Khalifa will be unavailable for BYU, but Pope will have a tough decision when he does return. Khalifa has been a great play-making asset in the Cougars’ lineup. On the other side, Traore has been excellent as of late, and he provides more strength and toughness inside. Both players are sure to get significant playing time, no matter who Pope decides to start.

Hall passing the ball

Dallin Hall stepped in and made up for the loss of Khalifa’s playmaking ability on Saturday.

Hall provided a career-high 12 assists against the Mountaineers.

Khalifa has been the big assist man for BYU throughout the season. If Hall can continue his play and chip in assists alongside Khalifa, it will only elevate the Cougars’ already high-powered offense.

Add in eight points and five rebounds, and that is the production that coaches beg for from their starting point guard.

Hall also stayed out of foul trouble against West Virginia. In previous games, foul trouble limited Hall’s ability to play freely during the game. Because of this, Hall was able to play 35 minutes on Saturday.

Looking ahead

BYU will look to continue their success on Tuesday night when they travel to Norman, Oklahoma to square off with the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

Tuesday’s game will tip off at 6 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.