BYU students that continue to bother with watching the Cougars play basketball — and, well, it's not quite like it used to be right now — spiced it up by dressing up.
It was vast and eclectic, to be sure. There were three dudes in massive sombreros. Blue Man Group wanna-bes. A wild-looking referee. And even a Superman in the front row of the baseline seats.
Oh, and speaking of Superman. Time to talk Tyler Haws and 38 points.
He dressed up as domination Thursday night, catapulting BYU into a breath of fresh air win, 88-78, against West Coast Conference bottom feeder Pacific.
"Our ability to get Ty into space, and get him shots — and he was hitting them. It got us off to a good start," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "Right now his confidence is really high. I also believe that guys are doing a good job of finding him and delivering the ball to him in spots where he can get a good shot....it's a good combination."
The Tigers, falling to 2-7, masked themselves as a contender in the early going despite Haws' sure-shot excellence, yet faded as Haws got help and the Cougars grew in confidence and vigor to snap a two-game losing streak that threatened to make the season a lot more trick than treat.
BYU improved to 14-9, and 6-4 in WCC games.
Haws scores off a sweet behind-the-back pass from Matt Carlino for points 32 and 33, which at the time put him at 1,681 for his career, sending him past former teammate Brandon Davies for 10th all-time at BYU.
By then, though, the lead had stretched to 14 and Haws had gone Kevin Durant-style with a little bit of embellishment in his 35-minute majesty.
It wasn't long before, however, that the Cougars really needed every swish from the 6-foot-5 junior.
His sixth 30-point game of the season was built quickly, scoring 14 of BYU's first 18 points. He added a couple of 3-pointers, something the Cougars really struggled to convert in the two losses at Portland and Gonzaga last week.
He made it worth the $3 promotional ticket price, even as the Cougars have lost the attention span of some of their fan base heading into the first meeting since 1996 with Pacific.
Rose called the crowd environment really good, although attendance was just 14,262 with much of the upper bleachers empty.
Haws' fanciest early moment, for those that fought through slick roads and hoops apathy, looked like he dressed up as a football player.
A long pass from a teammate sure looked like a Tiger interception near the baseline. Haws ripped the ball away, bounced around underneath the rim and faked a pass to set up a clear shooting angle for another two points, making it 13-9 seven minutes in.
Haws had 21 points but BYU still only led, 28-24, at the media timeout at 7:24.
He was 8-of-9 shooting, while teammates were 3-for-9. He had 24 points at halftime, hitting 9-of-14 shots; the rest of the Cougars scored 21 on 7-of-19 accuracy.
When Haws didn't score, it was early trouble. Pacific scored 11 of the second half's first 15 points, climbing back to a 49-45 deficit as he had just one shot, a miss.
BYU countered with a 14-2 run, as Haws came out with a jumpshot after securing a long rebound; a couple of free throws and a 3-pointer which may have played a significant part in alleviating the "slow feet" on defense that caused Rose to call timeout after Pacific's burst.
Haws downplayed the idea that his leadership must mostly be exuded on the offensive end, though it was clear as he made shots it built up BYU's confidence at both ends of the floor.
"I think a lot of our focus is on the defensive end right now. We're trying to get better....more locked in," Haws said. "Trying to make winning plays on the defensive end. That led into our offense."
Pacific is the second-worst WCC team at 3-point shooting, and didn't do itself any favors with a 7-for-17 show.
BYU had 10 steals and forced 14 turnovers. Despite Pacific having a wild 42-point advantage on points off the bench (45-2) it was Tiger frustration on the prowl.
There was a chippy little mixup with one player and Kyle Collinsworth, who each received technical fouls.
Haws was hit late on a nasty head-shot foul, a flagrant one that earned Pacific's Gabriel Aguirre a trip to the locker room with 2:30 left.
"A really physical game," was all Haws would say.
He did his fighting with flicks of his wrist.
The 38 points — he hit 4-of-5 3-pointers, making him 15-of-24 over the past eight games — was a Marriott Center record for Haws, who wasn't the only Cougar with a career night.
Eric Mika tied his career high with 20 points, getting 16 in the second half by making all six shots and recording a couple of and-1 plays. Mika had eight rebounds, five on the offensive end.
"Sometimes the ball just bounces to where you're at," the freshman center said. "I got that a couple of times early, confidence...then I felt like I could get to every ball."
Collinsworth and Skyler Halford chipped in 10 points apiece, albeit on a combined 5-of-19 shooting.
Nate Austin (seven points, eight rebounds) shined with a massive blocked shot (dressed up as Inspector Gadget — go-go gadget legs?) and a dunk putback when a double-team on Collinsworth's drive to the rim set up Austin for a funky putback that drew the crowd of its seats.
BYU will try and take the established home-court confidence to Saturday, when it'll face Saint Mary's on Saturday night. The Gaels, who entered the night in second place in the league race, lost at San Diego and only scored 43 points.
The challenge may be more mental for BYU, though.
SMC has won all four meetings in two years against BYU, including both trips to the Marriott Center. A big challenge, Rose would say.
Haws didn't talk about himself and his shot as the key to success going forward, but rather a mantra:
"Our defense fuels our offense," he said.
∫He said, uh, tweeted it: "Somebody stop @TyHaws 3 from scoring before he.. Oh.. Too late!" -- Former BYU center Brandon Davies, on his Twitter account, about his old buddy passing him on the Cougars' career scoring ladder.
∫Tip-ins: Pacific forward Trevin Harris (6.8 ppg) is a returned-missionary who transferred in from Western Wyoming Community College after playing high school ball in suburban Houston. He had no points and missed all three shots despite starting. ...BYU had a 22-6 margin on second-chance points.