WACO, Texas (AP) Jalen Bridges felt good and was able to be aggressive, especially with Baylor guards Jayden Nunn and RayJ Dennis getting him the ball.

“Just find me when I'm open, makes life easy for me,” Bridges said. “Also, (BYU) had a bigger guy on me, so I just tried to exploit that a little bit.”

Bridges scored 17 of his season-high 25 points after halftime as the 14th-ranked Bears rallied from a nine-point deficit to beat No. 18 BYU 81-72 on Tuesday night.

“Jalen was huge,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of the 6-foot-9 forward who was 7-of-14 shooting and 8 of 9 on free throws. “He was going, guys found him. And he was aggressive. Did a great job getting to the free throw line.”

Ja’Kobe Walter added 16 points for the Bears (13-2, 2-0 Big 12) and Langston Love had 15, including a couple of second-half 3-pointers and two free throws with 54 seconds left after BYU coach Mark Pope was called for a technical foul.

Baylor won its first conference game in the new Foster Pavilion, a week after christening the loud building with a 98-79 victory over Cornell.

Drew said Bridges told him: “`This place is so much better than the Ferrell Center.'”

Spencer Johnson and Trevin Knell each had 15 points for BYU (12-3, 0-2), a Big 12 newcomer this season. Dallin Hall scored 13 and Jaxon Robinson had 10.

“The first year at this level of competition, there’s going to be a little bit of regression,” Pope said. “For the next 18 games, we’re playing Top 25 teams. One of the beautiful things about being in this league, in our first year, is we get to kind of figure this out and grow into this. And we well.”

BYU had its largest lead after consecutive 3s by Knell made it 45-36 just over two minutes into the second half. Baylor responded with a 10-0 run, going ahead on Love’s 3-pointer with 14:12 left that began a string of seven lead changes in a span of only two minutes.

The Cougars were ahead after Johnson hit 3s a minute apart before Bridges made a layup to extend the run to eight points in a row for the Bears before Nunn's layup put them ahead to stay at 58-57.

Walter had 12 points at halftime, including a nice basket with 1:01 left for a 32-31 lead. But the standout freshman was quickly whistled for a technical after saying something to the BYU bench.

BYU finished the half on an 8-1 run, with Robinson making both technical free throws and 6-foot-11 center Aly Khalifa hitting a 3 when the Cougars kept possession. Robinson added a three-point play with 1.1 seconds left with a nifty layup and free throw for a 39-33 halftime lead.


BYU: The Cougars were coming off a loss to Cincinnati in their first Big 12 game, when they attempted 46 3-pointers. BYU was 9 of 24 from long range against Baylor.

Baylor: After shooting a season-worst 42.5% from the field in an overtime win at Oklahoma State, the Bears were off target again. They missed six of their first seven shots and finished at 43.1% (25 of 58) only after making more than half their shots following halftime. They were better on 3-pointers, hitting 10 of 23 after going 2 for 15 against the Cowboys.


Caleb Lohner, in his second year at Baylor, was part of BYU’s last NCAA Tournament team in 2020-21 when he was one of the West Coast Conference’s top freshman. Lohner played only three minutes and missed his lone shot against the Cougars.


BYU heads further east to take on fellow Big 12 newcomer UCF on Saturday.

Baylor is home again Saturday night to play Cincinnati, another of the four Big 12 newcomers.


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