The offensive numbers for BYU junior guard Tyler Haws over the five games heading into Saturday’s home game against San Francisco had been — yes, you know it’s coming — Jimmer-esque.
48 points at Portland, 23 at Gonzaga, 38 vs. Pacific, 33 vs. St. Mary’s and 27 vs. Santa Clara.
During that stretch, the Cougar star hit 55-of-98 shots from the field, meaning he was hitting at a scorching 56.1 percent clip.
But when you have one guy being consistently so effective on offense for a team, the question becomes what will happen when he goes cold?
BYU had to find the answer against the Dons as Haws still had a respectable 19 points (tied for the team lead with sophomore guard Kyle Collinsworth) but only made 7-of-20 shots (35 percent).
Need another indicator on the fact that it just wasn’t Haws’s night? Look at the free throws.
The career 88.7 percent foul shooter — 88.0 percent in 2013-14 — could only get 5-of-8 shots from the charity stripe to go in (62.5 percent).
Give the San Francisco defense plenty of credit for forcing the Cougar sharpshooter into difficult shots. They used the length of 6-foot-9 Mark Tollefsen and frequent double and even triple-teams to prevent Haws from beating them.
But that left an opening for other guys — and BYU did just barely enough to take advantage of it.
Cougar junior guard Matt Carlino explained it during the postgame press conference after BYU finished off the 68-63 win.
“We try to get Ty (Haws) the ball because when guys collapse, someone is going to be open,” Carlino said. “It also makes it hard for them to rebound and Nate Austin, Eric Mika, Kyle Collinsworth, they came through big-time.”
Yes, the end result was 20 Cougar offensive rebounds that turned into a 16-4 advantage in second-chance points.
In a game that came down to the final minute, it was a pair of big offensive rebounds that helped BYU build the lead and then run time off the clock.
So do the Cougars have to out-rebound their opponent by a staggering 18 total boards to win if Haws isn’t dominating?
Not necessarily — but they did Saturday.
That’s because the free-throw shooting — which appeared better in recent weeks — was again ridiculously bad (14-of-29, 48.3 percent).
Also, BYU has three other guys who can get the outside shots going when teams zero in on Haws.
In the first half against San Francisco, it was Collinsworth with 13 who carried the Cougars while Carlino came in after the break and had three enormous 3-pointers on his way to 11 points.
That’s not including junior guard Skyler Halford, who shot poorly against the Dons (1-of-5) but can also get hot and go off for 20 on a given night.
One of the great things about Haws — just like former BYU superstar Jimmer Fredette a few years ago — is that he can get points in a variety of ways. He almost always gets a bunch from the free throw line, plus he’s aggressive in transition.
It’s a testament to Haws’s ability that I’m calling a 19-point performance an “off-night.” He’s become so reliable that I almost pencil him in for 20 before the opening tipoff.
I’m not the only one who has noticed, of course. San Francisco head coach Rex Walters had nothing but good things to say about Haws.
“He makes a lot of tough shots look easy,” he said. “Haws is a stud. I tip my hat off to him. He’s a classy kid and an unbelievable worker. It’s all that’s what’s good in college athletics is that young man.”
But teams that rely too much on one player set themselves up for postseason failure because at some point that individual won’t be amazing. Then the rest of the team can have a tough time filling the void.
The Cougars ran into that against San Francisco but between the rebounding, the team effort and some help from the raucous home crowd of more than 18,000 fans, BYU still had just enough to win.
“When guys struggle, you have to dig in,” Cougar head coach Dave Rose said. “We’ve been scoring in the 80s and when you win a game with 68, it means you had to make plays, come up big at the defensive end and get rebounds on misses. Guys did a good job of doing that.”
Saturday’s game wasn’t the prettiest win BYU has had but winning ugly is still a million times better than losing.
This was a must-win for the Cougars and they did it, even with their star being merely good instead of incredible.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd