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Provo • Sophomore guard Tyler Haws was watching the National Invitation Tournament selection show on television with his family Sunday night when BYU popped up on the screen, followed by Washington.
First thing that entered his mind?
"It was C.J., yeah," he said. "We were like, 'Yeah, we are playing C.J. again.' We have had lots of great battles over the years, and I have a lot of respect for C.J. and his family. So it will be fun."
Of course, he was referring to former Pleasant Grove High star C.J. Wilcox, whose sixth-seeded Huskies (18-15) will take on No. 3 seed BYU (21-11) on Tuesday night in an NIT first-round game at the Marriott Center. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN.
Talk of Wilcox's homecoming dominated BYU's post-practice interviews Monday. The 6-foot-5 junior leads UW in scoring with a 16.7 average and recently was named to the Pac-12's second team. Wilcox's father, Craig, played at BYU in the mid-1990s and the Cougars desperately wanted him, only to see him leave the state for Washington and coach Lorenzo Romar.
"That is an interesting storyline to the game. C.J. had a great high school career here in [Utah] County," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "I think a lot of our guys who played here know him. Obviously, him and Tyler are very close. And with his dad playing here, this will probably be a pretty special opportunity for him."
It is also a great opportunity for BYU, because the Cougars will get a second home game if they win. Tennessee, the No. 2 seed, which hosts No. 7 Mercer, has said it cannot host a second-round game later in the week because it is hosting the NCAA women's tournament, and it will have to travel if it wins Wednesday.
Rose acknowledged that possibility, but said the Cougars aren't focusing on it.
"The most important thing is the preparation for this game, and to go out and play, compete, and try and get a win, and then deal with what happens next," he said. "Let's just compete here and see if we can get a win, and then see where it goes. Obviously from the reports, it looks like it could be a good situation. But our focus is on this game and playing more consistently than we did the last time out."
The Cougars haven't played since March 8, an 82-69 loss to San Diego in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament. The Huskies played five days ago, losing 80-77 in overtime to Oregon in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.
"When we heard we were playing them, I became really excited for this game," Rose said. "The matchups are difficult. They are really athletic, deep, especially on their front line. Their guards are pretty strong, good shooters. I think they are a pretty deep team. It looks like they are two deep at almost every position, so we look forward to the challenge."
And all the Cougars look forward to seeing Wilcox again, as long as he isn't going off for 20 or more points, as he has done 13 times this season.
"You can't leave him open anywhere on the court," Haws said. "It will be fun to see him again and play against him again. ... We go all the way back to the sixth grade, playing against each other and playing with each other. So we have played a lot together, won a lot of games together. ... I will probably end up on him a little bit. I am sure I will guard him. That will be a fun matchup."
Washington at BYU
P At the Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff • 7:30 p.m. MDT
TV • ESPN
Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Records • BYU 21-11, Washington 18-15
Series History • Washington leads, 10-8
Last Meeting • Washington def. BYU 83-68 (Dec. 7, 1997)
About the Cougars • Tyler Haws enters postseason play as the 11th leading scorer in the country with a 20.9 average. .... They are 12-8 all-time in the NIT, having won tournament championships in 1951 and 1966. ... They last appeared in the NIT in 2006, losing 77-67 at Houston.
About the Huskies • They are led in scoring by former Pleasant Grove High star C.J. Wilcox, who averages 16.7 points per game. Wilcox's father, Craig, played at BYU. ... They played in the NIT last year, winning three games and advancing to the semifinals in New York City before losing to Minnesota. ... They went 9-9 in the Pac-12. BYU vs. Washington
At the Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. MDT
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Records: BYU 21-11, Washington 18-15
Series History: Washington leads, 10-8
Last Meeting: Washington def. BYU 83-68 (Dec. 7, 1997)
About the Cougars: Tyler Haws enters postseason play as the 11th leading scorer in the country with a 20.9 average. .... They are 12-8 all-time in the NIT, having won tournament championships in 1951 and 1966. ... They last appeared in the NIT in 2006, losing 77-67 at Houston. ...
About the Huskies: They are led in scoring by former Pleasant Grove High star C.J. Wilcox, who averages 16.7 points per game. Wilcox's father, Craig, played at BYU. ... They played in the NIT last year, winning three games and advancing to the semifinals in New York City before losing to Minnesota. ... They went 9-9 in the Pac-12.