KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Tyler Haws felt like he was getting good shots. They simply weren’t falling.
BYU’s sharpshooter never hung his head, though. His teammates were hanging tough with Texas in the first half and that gave Haws the confidence that things would eventually start to click.
They did as soon as he emerged from the locker room.
Haws scored all but two of his 25 points over the second half, Matt Carlino added 20 points and BYU squeaked out an 86-82 win over the Longhorns on Monday night in the semifinals of the CBE Classic. BYU will play the winner of No. 12 Wichita State and DePaul in Tuesday night’s title game.
“I was trying to be aggressive the whole game,” Haws said. “It’s a big challenge to stay in it mentally when your shot’s not falling, but we were still in the game. I was so proud of the guys.”
Haws, who missed two games earlier this season with an abdominal injury, carried the Cougars (5-1) down the stretch. His jumper with 1:39 remaining gave BYU the lead, and an off-balance floater barely beat the shot clock and to extend the lead to 83-80 with 41 second left.
Jonathan Holmes scored with 18.9 seconds left for Texas (5-1), but Haws made good on a pair of free throws at the other end. Damarcus Croaker missed a potential tying 3 for Texas, and Haws made one of two foul shots with 5.3 seconds remaining to put the game away.
“I thought that it was a great effort the last three or four minutes,” said BYU coach Dave Rose, who improved to 25-4 in regular-season tournaments. “That’s what the game came down to, executing a few plays, getting a few rebounds, and our guys were able to finish that game off.”
Javan Felix had 17 points to lead the Longhorns, who had never lost in the tournament. Croaker finished with 14 points, Cameron Ridley added 12 points and Prince Ibeh had 11.
It was the first meeting between the schools since Dec. 1, 1978.
“We felt like we could win this thing,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said, “but we didn’t get past the first one here. I’m looking forward to seeing how we respond tomorrow.”
Eric Mika had 15 points and Kyle Collinsworth had 13 for the Cougars, who were coming off a last-second loss to Iowa State. Frank Bartley IV added 11 points as BYU shot 10 of 12 from beyond the arc and took advantage of some poor foul shooting by the Longhorns.
“They’re a good team. We’re a good team,” Barnes said, “and I think we’ll both get better.”
The Cougars didn’t seem to have any hangover from their last-second loss to the Cyclones, torching the nets in the Sprint Center in the first half. Carlino hit his first four attempts from beyond the arc, and BYU hit its first six, in racing out to a 21-12 lead in the opening minutes.
Texas started to assert itself with its size later in the half.
Ibeh had nine of his points and Ridley had seven as the Longhorns bruised their way back into the game. Felix added a couple 3-pointers during the charge, and Texas eventually capped a 17-4 run with a pair of free throws from Isaiah Taylor to take a 29-25 lead with 8:21 left in the half.
It became a back-and-forth affair from there with the Cougars leading 43-42 at the break.
“Our big guys dominated inside, but our guards need to do a better job on the perimeter,” Barnes said. “We had a chance to stretch it out there and we let them back in the game.”
Indeed, Texas had the Cougars briefly on the ropes midway through the second half, taking a 70-65 lead, but Haws answered with a pair of 3-pointers and a pair of free throws. He added two more foul shots a few minutes later to get the Cougars within 77-76 at the final media timeout.
The game remained tense down the stretch with neither team able to deliver a knockout blow.
That is, until Haws laid one right on the Longhorns’ chin.
“He’s tremendously aggressive,” Felix said, “and it was part of the game plan. We tried to chase him off everything. We just couldn’t hang on.”
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