PROVO — BYU’s 90-79 win over Washington in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday provided a chance for Pleasant Grove native C.J. Wilcox to return home and match up against his good friend and rival Tyler Haws. In front of family and friends, Washington’s leading scorer led his team with 20 points on 7-18 shooting from the field and 4-8 shooting from 3-point range.
It was a pretty typical game for the former Pleasant Grove High star who didn’t deviate from his normal play despite the homecoming venue.
“I think smart players don’t force things and take bad shots early,” said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar about Wilcox. “If you get 18 shots up then you were pretty aggressive and he just didn’t come out ... saying, ‘I’m at home and I’m going to come out and score 40 and shoot every time I (get) it.' He played smart basketball.”
Wilcox ended the first half with seven points and two made 3-pointers, including one at the very end that gave the Huskies a 35-33 lead heading into the locker room. The second half provided more openings and he responded with 13 points.
Meanwhile, his former AAU teammate and high school rival Haws set the court on fire with 37 points on 15-24 shooting from the field.
Overall Wilcox relished the experience, although he was hoping for a different result.
“Getting to play against him again in front of a lot of friends and family was a pretty good experience,” Wilcox said. “I’ve come home before. I played against Utah last year, so I’ve done it before. Playing against Tyler — being such good friends, it was a good experience to have.”
Throughout the years both players have maintained a close relationship and continued respect for each other's games. Nothing Haws did on the floor Tuesday night surprised Wilcox — and vice versa — due to the familiarity gained through countless games and practices spent together growing up.
“We got matched up a few times, but we usually don’t talk a lot when we‘re out there on the court,” Haws said. “It’s been about four years since I’ve seen him, but we’ve had some great battles over the years. We’ve played some great games together and I’m just used to being on the court with him. C.J. is a competitor and he wants to win. You can’t leave him, no matter where he is on the court. He’s always a threat no matter where he is.”