More than a dozen NBA scouts were on hand for Thursday night’s West Coast Conference game between BYU (16-8, 7-4 WCC) and No. 1 Gonzaga (23-0, 11-0 WCC).

And like we’ve seen from them all year, the Zags raced out to another double-digit lead in the first half. But for the first time in over a month, the top-ranked team in the country had to hold off a furious rally to escape with an 85-75 road victory over the Cougars in front of an announced crowd of 18,987 at the Marriott Center.

Nigel Williams-Goss scored a game-high 33 points to lead the Zags — the nation’s lone undefeated team. Gonzaga’s win also set a program record for most consecutive victories (23) and got revenge after the Cougars ended the Zags’ 22-game winning streak back in 2015.

With the loss, the Cougars dropped to 0-5 all-time when facing the nation’s top team. Thursday’s game was also the first time that BYU has ever hosted a No. 1 team.

“Our guys competed hard, they played hard but our execution needs to be better against a team like that,” said BYU head coach Dave Rose.

The Cougars got to within six points with two minutes left in the game on a layup by Eric Mika, but that’s as close as the Cougars would get.

“Gonzaga is a talented, deep team that keeps coming after you,” Rose added.

It didn’t help that the Cougars were short-handed with guard Nick Emery sick all week leading up to the big game. The sophomore didn’t start for the fifth time in his career and scored just two points, well below his average of 13.9 points per game.

Despite loss, BYU’s TJ Haws and Eric Mika impress scouts

In arguably the biggest home game in BYU history — with students camping out for days to get the best seats in the student section — freshman guard T.J. Haws didn’t play like an underclassman as the freshman sensation scored a career-high 29 points in the loss. Haws was 8-of 19 from the field, 4-of-9 from downtown and was 9-of-10 from the foul line.

The freshman single-handily got BYU back in the ball game with back-to-back 3-pointers with just under eight minutes to play in the second half. After coming off a screen, Haws knocked down his third triple of the game with a nifty fadeaway by the BYU bench.

“He’s got good range, can get his shot off quick and can create his own space if he needs too,” said one NBA scout.

Forward Eric Mika had 15 points and 11 rebounds — five of them coming on the offensive glass — in 35 minutes of action. The sophomore recorded another double-double and reached double figures for the 25th consecutive time this season.

Mika was one of the reasons why scouts were watching as he went up against Gonzaga’s 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, a 5-star recruit.

While he didn’t score 20-plus points like he did against the likes of USC, Saint Mary’s and Illinois, Mika still had a solid game.

“He’s has a terrific skill set, great athleticism and has a high basketball IQ,” said another NBA scout.

Karnowski was held to nine points and eight rebounds and Collins added six points, eight rebounds, and three blocks in 22 minutes of action.

Mika is projected by many to be a late second-round pick if he were to come out this year, with many expecting him to be a first-rounder in 2018. The 6-10, 230-pounder showed off his athleticism with a nifty spin move to get the layup and the foul during the first half against Collins.

Up next for BYU is another home game as the Cougars host Portland Saturday at 7 p.m. Gonzaga will look to stay perfect on the season as it hosts Santa Clara at home Saturday at 8 p.m.

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