SALT LAKE CITY -- BYU basketball's been searching for a high-scoring hero the last two years, since Jimmer Fredette graduated.
The next swishing great may have arrived, as Virginia Tech found out the hard way in a 97-71 BYU win.
Tyler Haws had 29 points by halftime, just two fewer than the Hokies, and wound up with a career day of 42 points that boosted the Cougars in their final non-conference game.
"Yeah, we could tell he was feeling it," said teammate Josh Sharp, who has known Haws for years. "We were definitely trying to get him the ball."
It had to make one wonder if the visitors only scouted the previous two years of BYU tape, when Haws was gone while serving a Mormon mission in the Philippines.
He wasn't guarded from the get-go, and that produced an early onslaught from which Va. Tech could not recover from at the NBA venue.
Haws hit 3-pointers on BYU's first two possessions, sparking a 14-2 lead in the opening 3 minutes.
BYU's been looking for a breakthrough, confidence-building win the last couple of weeks. And they knew how much they would rely this season on one of their top two scorers, but Haws took his game to another level.
Only Fredette's 32 points against Utah two seasons ago, during his senior campaign on the way to becoming an NBA lottery pick, was better than the total Haws produced in the opening 20 minutes. He hit nine of his 13 shots, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range.
"He was special," Tech coach James Johnson said. "He's a really good player. I mean, he's a really good player. He can score in a lot of different ways ... he's probably one of the best guards we'll play against all year long."
Tech only led Haws by two points at halftime, 31-29, but trailed by 15, only including the rest of the Cougars' support.
Fredette holds BYU's single-game scoring record, 52 from March of 2011 against New Mexico, but Haws wasn't about to catch that mark. The Hokies scrapped their zone defense in favor of man-to-man pressure that locked up the 6-foot-5 guard, though it left plenty of other avenues.
"We went away from our 'help' principles a little bit and try not to let him touch the ball as much. That's kind of uncharacteristic of what we do, but we tried to slow him down a little bit," Johnson said after his team dropped its fourth game in the last five (9-4). "It kept him from getting 60."
Haws had a new career-high 32 early in the season against Cal State Northridge, but that was a close game until the final 2 minutes.
Virginia Tech wasn't so aggressive at keeping the lead from getting out of control.
The Hokies, who among other things, missed 9-of-19 free throws by halftime, found themselves trailing by 30 after a Haws 3-point play at 16:35 let him set a new career best (34 points).
Tech was supposed to be the team with a scorch-ready shooter. But Erick Green, the nation's best points producer, was limited to 12 -- nearly 13 shy of his average. The guard missed 13 of his 17 shots.
Haws, meanwhile, was tied for the eighth-most points in school history. He led BYU to a 10-4 mark heading into West Coast Conference play. It won't go down as a "great win" come NCAA Tournament selection time, most likely, yet the Cougars were happy with the momentum and confidence they created going forward.
And not just for Haws, who went for a little more than double his season average.
"It was a good win for all of us," Haws said. "That's what I was happiest with. Everyone on the team played well for us to get this kind of win."
Notes: Haws' father, Marty, scored 40 points vs. Siena in 1989. They became the first father-son combo to reach at least 40 points in a game in school history. ... BYU center Brandon Davies sprained an ankle and was retaped early in the second half, but was fit to play if it had been a closer game. ... Va. Tech was 2-of-20 from 3-point range. ... The Hokies were 21-of-38 from the foul line. ... BYU received 10 points off the bench from Josh Sharp, including the loudest ovation of the night on his second-half dunk that turned into a 3-point play.