It wasn't the ideal lineup. It sure looked quirky, considering how much has been made lately of roles and starters, or backups.
But BYU hammered Pepperdine after a late-game five on the floor, fueled by foul trouble (but making it harder to rebound), worked in the Cougars' four-guard favor Thursday night.
Tyler Haws was the prime beneficiary in the 84-72 win against Pepperdine, when BYU's best scorer took over with 11 straight points (three 3-pointers and a jumper) almost right after the Waves cut their deficit to two with 5:04 left.
It turns out the new starting point guard (Kyle Collinsworth), the new backup (Matt Carlino), the surging hot hand (Skyler Halford) and the steadiest hand of all (Haws) could play nicely together in closing out with a net-swishing romp in front of 14,012 at the Marriott Center.
"Great execution in a tough spot," BYU coach Dave Rose said of a group that turned a nail-biting 62-60 lead — after Pepperdine's Jeff Van Dyke drilled a shot from the top of the key — into a game-clinching run that started with Halford's 16-foot baseline jumpshot right after the Waves' timeout.
They came out in zone, then Haws quickly got into a mental one after Halford's bucket provided a little breathing room.
Haws, who finished with a season-high 35 points, hit a 3-pointer from the corner by BYU's bench, followed up with one from the same spot; then he moved to the left elbow. Throw he hit a shot from just inside the arc...it was the Haws-some stuff BYU needed to assure avenging a Dec. 30 loss at Pepperdine.
It also found a flow for a team that shot 46 percent for the night, slumping for most of it around a hot start and the sizzling finish.
"I was just trying to stay aggressive," said Haws, who finished 11-of-23 shooting after a rickety 4-of-11 first half. "I felt like I was getting good looks. Teammates were finding me. I thought (UP) got tired a little bit, and I was able to get out in transition the last couple of minutes."
Talk about transition, there was a lot of it in the rematch.
Both teams basically played "completely different lineups," as Rose noted.
The Cougars were missing Eric Mika. The team figured by the end of shootaround (around 1:30 p.m.) that the freshman center's bruised hip wasn't going to be viable enough to play, after he hurt it during a season-low 17 minutes last Saturday against San Diego. He left that game early in the second half after looking wobbly on a slam dunk attempt.
Pepperdine issued a short media release before tipoff that three key players would not play.
Malcolm Brooks, who scorched the Cougars with six 3-pointers in the previous meeting against them, wasn't healed enough from a sprained ankle suffered late in the first half of last Saturday's game against San Francisco.
Brendan Lane (Pepperdine's leading scorer) suffered a knee injury at USF and he was held out for precaution. Same goes for Nikolas Skouen, who was ill.
Pepperdine missing those 3 players took away 38 of 80 points from the Waves' six-point win against BYU.
Rose gave a blunt "not at all," when asked if the win's meaning changed by not taking Pepperdine's best shot. BYU improved to 10-7, 2-2 in West Coast Conference games by recording a second consecutive win after losing the previous four games.
Pepperdine had no problem hanging around after falling behind 12-0 to start. The Waves had three turnovers, four fouls and three missed shots when coach Marty Wilson called timeout just 3:16 in.
But the Waves (10-7, 3-2) pulled within 33-30 at halftime.
Collinsworth came up one assist shy of a triple-double, which hasn't happened at BYU since Michael Smith in 1988. Rose lauded the sophomore — 15 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists — for creating an in-the-middle presence by driving there often to atone for missing Mika inside.
"He was just really dialed in on being a team guy and getting a team win," Rose said.
Josh Sharp started at forward in place of Mika, but only took one shot and was limited to 16 minutes because of foul trouble. Fellow post player Nate Austin had six points (3-for-3 shooting) and nine rebounds in 30 minutes.
Mika averages 27 minutes and nearly 14 points, and had started all 16 previous games.
He's still questionable for Saturday's home game against Loyola Marymount — another rematch coming off a BYU loss.
Rose said the pain has subsided for Mika since getting hurt last weekend, but explosiveness hasn't returned.