LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Brigham Young cut side to side, whipped the ball around the perimeter, created one open shot after another.
The Cougars knocked most of those, turning the Maui Invitational third-place game into a rout.
TJ Haws scored 13 of his 20 points during a key second-half run and BYU made 17 3-pointers to beat Virginia Tech 90-77 on Wednesday night.
“It really came together for us in the second half, we moved the ball really well,” Haws said. “We trust in each other, we trust in our game plan, what coach is telling us. We’re just finding the open shots and guys stepped up.”
The Cougars (5-3) turned a tight game into a rout with an array of 3-pointers, making 8 of 14 in the second half. Haws went 4 for 7 behind the arc and BYU shot 54% to leave Maui with two big victories.
The Cougars went 17 for 34 from 3-point range and had six players score in double figures.
“When you talk about a rhythm of a game that you’re shooting for, it’s not a tangible dot-to-dot diagram of a play,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “It’s an outline of how you want the game to feel. It’s hard to learn and that’s why it’s elusive for us, but I think our trajectory is really good.”
The Hokies (6-2) matched the Cougars shot for shot in a tight first half but couldn’t keep up in the second. Landers Nolley II had 22 points and P.J. Horne 13 for Virginia Tech, which lost despite shooting 53%.
“What they do defensively is difficult to stop,” Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. “I thought we did a fair job in the first half. In the second half, they played like old people and we played like little fellas.”
The Hokies were picked to finished 14th in the ACC their first season under Young but showed they might be a little better than that in Maui.
Virginia Tech pulled off the upset of the bracket by knocking off No. 3 Michigan State before losing to eventual runner-up Dayton.
BYU had a similar start in Maui in its first season under Pope, knocking off UCLA before falling to No. 4 Kansas, which went on to win its third Maui title earlier Wednesday.
The Hokies and Cougars traded baskets in a back-and-forth Maui finale.
Virginia Tech did it from all over, hitting 15 of 27 shots. BYU did its damage from the 3-point arc, making nine from long range.
Nolley had 15 points to give the Hokies a 37-35 halftime lead.
BYU kept hitting shots in the second half and went on a 17-2 run to go up 58-48. Haws had 13 points during run on three 3-pointers and two layups, including one on an inbound play under the basket after throwing the ball off the back of a Virginia Tech defender.
BYU kept making 3s to keep the Hokies from making a run.
“We’ve got to guard a little bit better,” Young said. “They make it hard one you.”
By winning two games in Maui against large-conference schools, BYU showed the West Coast Conference may be more than a two-team race between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s.
Virginia Tech played well in Maui but ran into two hot-shooting teams. The Hokies may very well be better than expected.
BYU hosts Montana Tech on Saturday.
Virginia Tech hosts top-ranked Duke on Dec. 6.
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