PROVO — Brandon Davies scored 28 points and Tyler Haws added 22 as BYU started fast and finished strong in defeating Georgia State 80-62 on Tuesday night.
The Cougars (2-0) led by as many as 29 points midway through the first half as the Panthers started 1 of 14.
But Georgia State (0-2) fought back, trailing 44-26 at halftime. The Panthers were within 11 points in the second half before Matt Carlino drained a 3-pointer to spark a 9-2 BYU run.
Manny Atkins led Georgia State with 21 points and eight rebounds. R.J. Hunter added 12 but made just 2 of 9 shots. Devonta White finished with 14 points but hit just 5 of 17 shots and was 0 of 6 from 3-point range.
The Cougars held a 42-24 advantage on points in the paint and 14-4 on the fast break.
BYU made 8 of 20 3-pointers and shot 52 percent.
BYU scored 31 points in the first 10 minutes but only 24 points in next 20 as the Panthers made some adjustments.
Early on, the Cougars played as well as they ever have. Haws hit a pair of 3-pointers to open the game and the Cougars were off and running, leading 15-0 just 4 minutes into the game, 20-2 with 6 minutes elapsed, and 31-2 with 10:31 remaining.
Georgia State, which kept it close early in its opener against Duke, looked shell-shocked from the start against BYU as the Cougars pushed the pace, dominating the boards and making shot after shot. Even a fan couldn’t miss, hitting a half-court shot during one of the early timeouts.
The Panthers were cold from the start, starting 1 of 12, including 0 of 4 from 3-point range. They also turned the ball over twice and saw two shots blocked as BYU blanked them early.
BYU’s starters, meanwhile, opened 13 of 16 for 31 points, with Haws starting 4 of 4, Carlino 3 of 3 and Brock Zylstra 2 of 2.
Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter was so frustrated he threw up his hands, scanning his bench trying to figure out who could stop the bleeding. He’d call as many timeouts in the first nine minutes (two) as the Panthers had points.
He finally got a spark from White, who hit a jumper. Denny Burguillos followed with a put-back and Atkins a 3-pointer to give Georgia State some hope.
The Panthers closed the first half on a 20-9 run to trail 44-26 at halftime. Georgia Tech shot 26.5 percent in the first half and was outscored 22-6 in the paint and 8-0 on the fast break.
BYU made 6 of 12 3-pointers in the first half, with Haws making all four and Zylstra 2 of 3.
Haws continued his hot shooting in the second half. His fourth 3-pointer with 15:55 left pushed BYU’s lead back to 20 points, 53-23.
Georgia State fought back again. White’s layup pulled the Panthers within 12 points, 55-43, and they were within 11 on Rashaad Richardson’s jumper with about 9 minutes remaining.
Carlino then hit the big 3, Josh Sharp a putback and Davies two more buckets.
Sharp’s dunk made it a 20-point BYU lead again with 4 minutes remaining.
Despite the double-digit win, there was plenty of room for improvement for the Cougars, who committed 16 turnovers and couldn’t muster many points from its bench.
BYU knows it will have to play better on the road. The Cougars have a semifinal game Friday in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic against Florida State. On Saturday, they will face the winner of the game between Notre Dame and St. Joseph’s.
• TOP RECRUIT PARKER WILL WAIT TO SIGN WITH SCHOOL: Top high school recruit Jabari Parker won’t be signing his letter of intent when the early period begins on Wednesday.
Lola Parker said Tuesday her son is “not signing.” She said he’ll probably commit to a school in December and make it official in the spring.
Jabari Parker, who plays for Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy, has made official visits to Michigan State, Duke and Florida.
A trip to Stanford scheduled for last weekend likely will happen in early December, instead, because he’s been going for therapy on his broken right foot four days a week. He’s also scheduled to visit Brigham Young over Thanksgiving weekend.
Lola Parker said her son hasn’t ruled out any of those five schools. The early signing period runs through Nov. 21. If he doesn’t sign before then, he can do it between April 17 and May 15.
“We’ve kind of left it to Jabari to figure it out, what he wants to do,” Lola Parker said. “It’s a great place to be in, that you can pick and choose and have choices.”
A 6-foot-8 forward, Jabari Parker is one of the most prized recruits to come along in recent years. He received the Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year award after leading Simeon to its third straight state championship while averaging 19.5 points and 8.9 rebounds as a junior.
He comes from the same high school that Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose attended, and his father Sonny played six seasons with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA after starring at Chicago’s Farragut Career Academy.
Religion also plays a big role in Jabari’s life. He is a devout Mormon, just like his mom, and the Parkers have said a mission is a possibility.
While he’s deciding his next step, he’s also trying to recover from his foot injury. The timetable for his return remains up in the air.
“He’s fine. He’s just waiting to get a clearance from his doctor,” Lola Parker said. “He does a lot of cardio. He’s on the bike a lot, so he’s doing stuff with his feet that he couldn’t do. He has several weeks to go. He’s just waiting to get a clearance but he’s looking pretty good.”