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Young Kwak, AP
BYU's Tyler Haws (3) dribbles against Gonzaga's Gary Bell Jr. during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Spokane, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

PROVO — How many points would BYU's Tyler Haws score if he played against his own defense every night?

It’s no secret that the Cougars' defense has struggled defending shooters. For a myriad reasons, it’s been a big chore to shut down guys who are having career nights.

Thing is, Haws is in the middle of a remarkable scoring season in his own right.

His numbers are climbing.

In BYU's last three games, he played with his hair on fire. Against Portland, Gonzaga and Pacific, Haws scored 109 points for an average of 36.3 points a game.

He currently ranks No. 3 nationally in scoring, averaging 24 points a game. The national leader is Antoine Mason at 26.9. He plays for a 6-16 Niagara team. Doug McDermott, playing for No. 20 Creighton, is the nation’s No. 2-ranked scorer (26 ppg).

When Haws scored 48 points in the Cougars' triple-overtime loss at Portland last week and added 23 in a loss at Gonzaga, one would think that 71 points, an average of 35.5 per game, would have earned him WCC Player of the Week honors. The 48-point total was the most scored by a WCC player since Hank Gathers of LMU got 50 in 1990 — a span of 24 years.

It seemed like a no-brainer.

But the WCC had previously honored Haws on Jan. 13. The WCC's Jan. 27 player of the week honors went to San Diego’s talented Johnny Dee. The 71 points scored by Haws were significantly more than the 47 points scored by Dee. In fact, the points scored by Haws were almost enough for another entire game.

Dee, a point guard, had great selling points too. And it was his turn.

In that week, Dee was perfect from beyond the arc (7 of 7) and perfect from the line (10 of 10). He averaged 23.5 points against the same two teams BYU played, but actually helped produce a win (Portland) while nearly knocking off Gonzaga by himself. Wins count.

The WCC, like most conferences, probably tries to spread its player of the week honors around to member schools and players. It’s a way to pitch recognition to individuals, players and coaches. It’s a publicity tool.

After scoring 71 points in two games, Haws went to the Marriott Center court Thursday on roller skates. He scorched Pacific for 38 points, including 21 in the first half.

In a late Saturday game, the Cougars host St. Mary’s in a classic rematch against a WCC foe that cut the hearts out of BYU a year ago with a last-second running half-court shot by Matthew Dellavedova in the Marriott Center.

The Cougars haven't beaten St. Mary’s since joining the WCC.

The Gaels are a very good defensive team. They play deliberate, executing on offense and playing tough on defense. Plus, the coaching staff at St Mary’s is gifted at sorting things out — like how to stop Haws.

It should make for an entertaining showdown.

The game comes during a rare stretch in which BYU coach Dave Rose gets his team at home, and freshman center Eric Mika is healing up after getting banged around in January.

Haws would be the first to say this is a team game, but only a fool would ignore the firepower he is displaying.

If Haws has a great game against the Gaels, it will be interesting to see the reviews Monday out of San Bruno, Calif., league headquarters. If he gets his season average, he’ll have 62 points in two games, an average of 31 for the week.

Points aren’t everything, and in losses they could be considered even less.

But right now, this Haws thing is pretty nuts.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at [email protected].