SAN FRANCISCO — In its 87-76 win at Pepperdine Thursday night, BYU saw TJ Haws and Gavin Baxter achieve career-highs in scoring and the Cougars also received a boost from a couple of other players.
BYU will likely need its depth to come up big again to spring an upset at San Francisco Saturday (9 p.m. MST, AT&T SportsNet RM).
“It’s going to take another team effort. It’s going to take everyone contributing,” said Haws, who scored a career-best 34 points and tied a career-high with eight assists against Pepperdine. “We’re going to have to be locked in for 40 minutes on both ends of the floor. We know they’re a very talented team and they’ve been playing really well this year.”
Haws made 18 of 22 free throws against the Waves, the most any BYU player has taken, or made, in a single game since Jimmer Fredette knocked down 23 of 24 from the charity stripe against TCU in 2010.
San Francisco (15-3, 3-1) has posted a 10-1 record at home this season, with its only loss coming at the hands of No. 5 Gonzaga last week.
The Dons edged Pacific on the road Thursday, 53-52. Forward Charles Minlend scored 14 points and made a free throw with three seconds left to secure the win.
Minlend averages a team-high 15.2 points while point guard Frankie Ferrari averages 13.4 points and 5.4 assists. Other key contributors include Jordan Ratinho (10.2 ppg), Matt McCarthy (9.7 ppg) and Jimbo Lull (8.7 ppg).
The Cougars (12-8, 4-1) are undefeated — 7-0 — at War Memorial Gym since joining the West Coast Conference.
Haws said he couldn’t explain his team’s success at San Francisco.
“I don’t know. In past years, we’ve been really ready to go when we start those games,” he said. “I feel like we’ve shot the ball well in that gym. But it’s going to take a great effort from us on Saturday.”
BYU, which is riding a three-game winning streak, got a great effort from several players, including Baxter, a freshman who scored a career-high 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor to go along with six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Baxter played a career-high 23 minutes, more than he had played in the four previous games combined. Haws and Baxter connected on a couple of memorable alley-oops late in the game.
Coach Dave Rose was happy to see Baxter turn in a breakout game.
“We’ve seen it happen in the last couple of weeks in practice. He’s taken a step forward. The biggest thing with Gavin is that he doesn’t have to think as much anymore, he just kind of plays because he understands our system,” Rose said. “It’s become a little more second-nature to him. Then just the athletic plays — TJ comes off that screen and Gavin back-cuts and he got two big dunks late in the shot clock. Those are the kind of things he could do when he got here. Now he’s able to read it and understand it. TJ made some big plays and showed a lot of confidence in him.”
“I guess it was just being at the right place at the right time. A lot of hard work went into it, Baxter said of his performance. “It feels good. It’s been a long time coming. It feels good to get out there and perform well. I’m starting to get some momentum, so hopefully I can keep that going in the next couple of games.”
Said Haws of Baxter: “I thought he was fantastic tonight on both ends of the floor. He had some huge blocks for us and he got a lot of rebounds. He’s super-long and super-athletic. For a point guard, it’s super-fun to have a guy like that to throw the ball up in the air and let him go get it.”
Yoeli Childs scored 20 points while Zac Seljaas came off the bench to score nine points and grab 10 rebounds against the Waves.
BYU will probably be without guard Jahshire Hardnett again Saturday. He’s missed the last three games due to a hand injury. Doctors have put a cast on his left hand and Rose said Hardnett is “day-to-day.”17 comments on this story
For the Cougars, Saturday's showdown is a big challenge. USF coach Kyle Smith’s team is regarded as the second-best team in the league behind the Zags.
“This will be a battle. They’ve got a lot of confidence,” Rose said of the Dons. “Hopefully, our guys get off to a good start. That’s important for us. Kyle’s done a heckuva job with that group.”
BYU (12-8, 4-1) at San Francisco (15-3, 3-1)
- Saturday, 9 p.m. MST
- War Memorial Gymnasium
- TV: AT&T SportsNet RM
- Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM