KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Texas recorded nine blocked shots, forced 16 turnovers, grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and scored 24 second-chance points.
But BYU had Tyler Haws.
The junior guard scored 21 of his game-high 25 points in the final 11 minutes — including a clutch, 18-foot running jumper near the baseline with 43 seconds remaining as the shot-clock buzzer sounded — to help lift the Cougars to a dramatic 86-82 victory over the Longhorns at Sprint Center.
Freshman Eric Mika had the ball in the corner with the shot clock about to expire.
“He was acting like he wanted me to take a handoff,” Haws said. “I’ve shot that shot in H-O-R-S-E and after practice — the runner. I was happy it went in.”
With the win, BYU (5-1) advances to Tuesday’s championship game (8 p.m. MST, ESPN2) of the College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame Classic against No. 12 Wichita State, which whipped DePaul in the nightcap, 90-72.
“We didn’t overlook Texas,” Mika said. “But I’m sure I speak for the whole team when I say Wichita State was definitely on the back of our minds while we were getting ready for this tournament because they’re ranked and it’s a big opportunity on a big stage for us. Hopefully we can capitalize on that.”
While the Cougars knocked down 10 of 12 3-point attempts against Texas, little else was going well for BYU early in the second half as the Longhorns (4-1) used their length and athleticism to their advantage.
“That’s probably the most athletic team that I’ve seen since Marquette,” said guard Matt Carlino, who scored 20 points, hitting 5-of-7 3-pointers (four in the first half) and dished out six assists. “They were even more so than Marquette when we played them in the (NCAA) tournament a few years ago.”
“They rebounded better than any team I’ve ever seen,” said Mika, who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. “They were freaks on the glass. It’s good experience.”
With just less than nine minutes remaining, the Cougars trailed 70-65. That’s when Haws, who scored just two points in the first half, asserted himself. Haws drained back-to-back 3-pointers that gave BYU the lead, 71-70, with just less than eight minutes remaining.
“I wouldn’t say he struggled in the first half, but he wasn’t playing up to how we know he can play,” Mika said of Haws. “He made those two 3s in a row, and I knew from then on he was going to take it from there.”
“I was trying to be aggressive the whole game,” Haws said. “I felt like I got good shots in the first half; they just weren’t falling. These games, it’s a big challenge to stay in it mentally when your shot’s not falling. I was so proud of the guys. We just kept battling and guys made plays to keep us in the game. Then I was able to make a few shots down the stretch.”
“He kept going. He didn’t slow down,” Carlino said. “I think that’s Ty’s biggest strength. Even if he misses a few shots, he keeps coming at you. That’s what he did.”
Haws' biggest shot of the game came with about one minute remaining as he hit an 18-foot jumper.
“We had a play called,” Haws said. “We ran the play and Texas defended it really well.”
Just when it looked like the shot clock would run out on Mika, with Texas big man Cameron Ridley trapping him, Haws appeared, knowing time was running out. He took a pass from Mika and let the ball fly toward the hoop to give the Cougars an 83-80 advantage.
“I was just hoping Tyler would come back,” Mika said. “He came back and made an unbelievable shot.”
“That shot in the corner, that was crazy,” Carlino said of Haws’ heroics. “He made it, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’”
The Longhorns cut the deficit to 83-82 following a putback by Jonathan Holmes. But Haws sealed the win by hitting 3 of 4 free throws in the final 14.5 seconds. Haws finished 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.
The Cougars avoided back-to-back losses to Big 12 teams. BYU was coming off a heartbreaking 90-88 defeat at home to Iowa State, which jumped to No. 17 in this week's Associated Press poll.
“Our guys were able to finish that game off in a positive way for us,” said BYU coach Dave Rose. “Hopefully it gives us confidence moving forward. I couldn’t be happier for this group of guys because they came off a tough loss the other night. That Iowa State game was a real winnable game for us. We left a lot of possessions on the floor. We executed way better down the stretch in this game, which obviously changed the result.”
Though the Cougars had to wait until later that night to find out their opponent for Tuesday, they figured it would be the ranked Shockers, who knocked No. 1 seed Gonzaga out of the NCAA tournament last year.
“We missed an opportunity last Wednesday (to beat a ranked opponent),” Carlino said. “To get another opportunity would be good. If we get a chance to play them, it would be great.”
Going into the contest Monday, BYU coaches decided to play a lot of zone against the Longhorns to try to neutralize their length.
“Their big guys were a concern coming in,” Rose said. “We didn’t intend to play (zone) all 40 minutes like we did, but it just worked out that way. We got into foul trouble early and felt like the zone might keep us out of trouble.”
Late in the game, the Cougars had three players — Mika, Nate Austin and Kyle Collinsworth — with four fouls.
Carlino attributed his team’s 16 turnovers to Texas’ athleticism.
“I threw a few passes and usually those were assists and they were right there. I don’t know if I couldn’t have thrown that pass any better and they’d get there. They were crazy athletic.”
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