Why a BYU basketball player is skipping water breaks during games

Aly Khalifa scored eight points and added five assists while not being able to eat or drink.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars center Aly Khalifa (50) as BYU hosts Baylor, NCAA basketball in Provo on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.

BYU center Aly Khalifa scored eight points and added five assists in just over 17 minutes as the Cougars beat Central Florida 87-73 on Wednesday to advance in the Big 12 Tournament.

Those numbers would seem scant to the naked eye, but it’s different when considering Khalifa, who is Muslim, is currently on a fast due to Ramadan. Muslims during that month do not eat or drink from before sunrise until sunset.

Wednesday’s game — which tipped off at 11:30 a.m. local time in Kansas City — was Khalifa’s first time playing a basketball game during the fasting hours of Ramadan, he told a reporter after the game.

“I felt good — a little tired, obviously, because of Ramadan,” Khalifa said. “That’s my first time playing during fasting hours. It felt pretty different, obviously, not drinking water during timeouts and stuff.”

Khalifa added that he ate at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

“It was pretty hard,” Khalifa said. “Obviously, it’s pretty tough. But right now I have my guys here to take care of me and lift me up whenever I’m tired. That’s what we have a team for.”

Khalifa was once again fasting when BYU tipped off against Texas Tech in Thursday morning’s quarterfinal matchup. The center had three points, two boards and an assist as the Cougars’ run in the conference tournament came to an end with an 81-67 loss to the Red Raiders.