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Marco Garcia, AP Photo, File

Cougars pour in 17 3s to pull away from Virginia Tech for third place in Maui

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - Nov 28th, 2019 @ 12:24am | Posted - Nov 27th, 2019 @ 11:26pm



PROVO — The BYU basketball team is coming back from Hawaii with a big win.

And after Monday’s first-round upset of UCLA, the Cougars added another over Virginia Tech, too.

TJ Haws poured in a season-best 20 points to go with three assists to help BYU blitz Virginia Tech in the second half of a 90-77 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational at Lahaina Civic Center in Hawaii.

Dalton Nixon scored a season-high 14 points for the Cougars (5-3), including two of 17 3-pointers for a BYU team that shot better than 57 percent from behind the arc in the second half.

“TJ’s a great player,” said BYU teammate Alex Barcello, who had 13 points, two rebounds and two assists. “He came in, banged those 3s, and it pushed us on a run. We just kept it going.

“It just shows how hard these guys play,” Barcello added. “It’s fun being with a team that plays so hard and wants it so bad.”

Haws played sparingly in the first half due to foul trouble, then erupted after the break to spark the Cougars. At one point, the Lone Peak product single-handedly scored 13 straight points, leading a 20-4 charge that helped turn the 37-35 halftime deficit into a 58-48 advantage six minutes after the break.

And those 17 3-pointers tied a single-game program record for most in a game, a mark that was also set in the Maui Invitational during a 121-85 win over Division II Chaminade on Nov. 25, 2014. The Cougars also had 17 triples against San Francisco in 2016.

The last time BYU accomplished such a feat in Maui, Chase Fischer was dropping bombs for the Cougars.

“He’s a special talent,” BYU coach Mark Pope said of Haws. “In TJ’s four years, he’s had to play four different styles of play. And he’s been really patient with me trying to figure out what I’m talking about and what I want from him. It doesn’t come easy, and he certainly took another step forward.

“He made shots today, and that’s really important to his game. But he also played really smart.”

BYU’s Jake Toolson totaled 11 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and teammate Kolby Lee supplied 10 points, three rebounds and four assists.

Danders Nolley II had 22 points and seven rebounds to lead Virginia Tech (6-2), which got 13 points from P.J. Horne.

Nahiem Alleyne supplied 12 points and four assists for the Hokies, who rank No. 57 in the latest KenPom ratings and are the second-best win on the Cougars’ slate, according to the predictive metrics.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” Pope said. “When I’ve seen my family was when I walked down to the cabana, saw my girls for five minutes, and then went back to work.

“But thanks to this win, we are going for a midnight swim on the beach and we probably won’t go back to the room. We are going to party for 12 hours until we fly out at noon.”

Notes

Virginia Tech was playing in the third-place game after an 89-62 semifinal loss to Dayton. … The Flyers fell to Kansas, 90-84 in overtime of the Maui Invitational championship earlier Wednesday. … Udoka Azubuike had a career-high 29 points in the Jayhawks’ win. ... BYU entered the matchup 4-0 all-time against the Hokies, including an 80-77 win in their last meeting in the 2016 NIT. … Wednesday’s game was called by ESPN’s Dave Pasch and Bill “Big Wave Willy” Walton, the duo’s second time calling the Cougars on the islands this year.

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