PROVO — The Cougars returned home this week after a disappointing end to a four-game road trip. A triple overtime loss at Portland and a double-digit defeat at the hands of Gonzaga have left BYU in the middle of the pack chasing the WCC regular season championship.
Despite the tough road ahead, Dave Rose was confident at his weekly coach's show Tuesday night at the new Google Fiber headquarters in downtown Provo.
"I think that this team has great potential and a great future," Rose said, "but we have to get started on Thursday with a big win."
PROVO — The BYU men's basketball team is roaring loud, and clawing its way back into contention after winning its fifth-straight West Coast Conference game last Saturday at Santa Clara, 91-81.
With two huge road victories last week, the Cougars are ready to pounce on an important opportunity to claim the top spot in the WCC as they set out to finish their four-game road trip this week with stops in Portland and Gonzaga.
"I'm excited for this weekend," head coach Dave Rose told Greg Wrubell Tuesday night at Malawi's pizza in Provo. "I think that Thursday's game in Portland is a huge challenge for our players, but we've had great, spirited practices, and I like where we are."
Now dealing with another injury on his already thin front line, BYU head basketball coach Dave Rose leads his team back out on the conference road this week, for games at Portland and league-leading Gonzaga.
Starting forward and occasional center Nate Austin was scheduled for x-rays on an injured left ankle, after hurting it early in Tuesday afternoon's Marriott Center practice. The injury forced Austin to miss most of the session, as he did not return to the floor.
Rose acknowledged that the injury could impact how well his team is able to play this weekend, starting Thursday.
It's a simple thing that BYU head hoops coach Dave Rose is fond of saying: winning games is hard.
In conference play, the nature of the task grows harder still, with road wins representing the most rewarding of victories.
Thursday night in San Francisco, BYU faced some tactical challenges and statistical anomalies that forced the Cougars to excel in recent areas of struggle, and they responded, holding on for an 83-76 win at War Memorial Gymnasium--BYU's first true away win since a Nov. 11 victory at Stanford.
The BYU men's basketball team is currently riding a three-game West Coast Conference winning streak after dropping its first two conference games in late December.
A four-game road stretch, which starts this week with games at San Francisco and Santa Clara, will provide the Cougars with a difficult test. If all goes well it would set them up nicely for the second half of WCC play.
"This group has played a lot of road games with not a lot of road success," head coach Dave Rose told Greg Wrubell during his weekly radio show Tuesday at Malawi's Pizza in Provo.
BYU should be back to full-strength as the Cougars open a crucial four-game West Coast Conference road stretch Thursday at San Francisco.
Center Eric Mika, who missed the last two games after an injury suffered Jan. 4 v. San Diego, participated in Tuesday's Marriott Center practice, and afterward, head coach Dave Rose sounded optimistic about Mika's playing prospects this weekend.
"Eric is feeling better," Rose told the assembled media. "He practiced a little bit yesterday, and today was into practice full-time, so unless he has a setback tonight, we anticipate him having a good practice tomorrow and playing on Thursday--that's what we're hoping."
As BYU looks to record back-to-back wins for the first time in more than a month, the Cougars are dealing with an injury to starting center Eric Mika that has the freshman's status for Thursday's home game with Pepperdine in question.
Mika was hurt during Saturday night's home win over San Diego, when he was upended while closing out to Johnny Dee in the three-point corner. After landing hard on his back and hip, Mika continued to play, but his playing time was limited to a season-low 17 minutes, and he was clearly laboring in his time spent on the floor.
X-rays and other scans were negative, but Mika has still been unable to practice this week. After practice on Wednesday at the Marriott Center, head coach Dave Rose said Mika is "getting better every day."
PROVO — The BYU men's basketball team was rejuvenated on Saturday, when a career-high 28 points from Skyler Halford led the Cougars to a win over travel partner San Diego to snap a four-game losing streak.
Looking to capitalize on the new momentum, BYU returns home to try to start a new winning streak -- against the very teams that extended its Dave Rose-era record for futility, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.
It's not ideal, but it's the product of an unbalanced West Coast Conference schedule hastily rearranged after 10th-member Pacific rejoined the league over the summer.
PROVO — The BYU men's basketball team is riding its first four-game losing streak in the Dave Rose era, and desperately need a win to get back a lot of lost confidence.
A home game in the friendly confines of the Marriott Center would help. And a Saturday evening tip against travel partner San Diego comes just in time.
"It's always good to get back to the Marriott Center and play in front of your home crowd," junior Tyler Haws said Thursday during the Dave Rose Show at Malawi's Pizza. "There's something special about that place, and it's good to be back."
Having lost four straight games for the first time in the Dave Rose era, the BYU hoopsters return to the Marriott Center on Saturday to face San Diego, opening a three-game homestand that will see the Cougars play more home games in eight days than they played in the previous 45 days.
Head coach Dave Rose was asked if his players might already be more comfortable knowing they're home for a while, and he said "I hope that's not the case. I hope they understand the challenge."
"What we need to concentrate on," said Rose after his team's Thursday afternoon practice, "is that this is a real challenge, and we need to execute our game plan. We need to know it, we need to feel free and play, and not so much worry about the comfort of home because we're going to have to go back out on the road again and play."
It has been an unusual season for Dave Rose and the BYU Cougars, who as the calendar turns to 2014, are in the midst of a four-game losing skid and off to an 0-2 start in West Coast Conference play. The four-game slide is the first of the Rose era, as is the 0-2 start to league competition.
Numerous other downbeat "firsts" have occurred in the first two months of the season, accentuating the unfamiliar position in which Rose and the Cougars find themselves.
SAN FRANCISCO - BYU puts its four-year bowl win streak on the line Friday night in the 12th annual Fight Hunger Bowl, taking on a Washington team that like BYU, is 8-4 on the season and looking to finish the 2013 campaign out on a winning note.
The Cougars are led by a tenured coach wrapping up his ninth season as BYU's bench boss, while the Huskies will be helmed by a former UW quarterback and quarterbacks coach serving a one-game stint as the interim head man, before Chris Peterson takes over in Seattle. The teams' records may be identical, but the back-story of each team's bowl preparation is disparate.
"This is a unique situation and circumstance our team has been faced with the last couple of weeks," said Washington interim head coach Marques Tuiasosopo at a bowl week press conference Monday at AT&T Park, "but what I think is more important--and it has really been brought to the fore-front--is the group of young men and their ability to come together as a team and finish what they started four or five years ago."
PROVO — The Cougars wrapped up practice in Provo Friday night, feeling ready for a tough game with Washington in the upcoming Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
BYU's senior class has produced some great players with great accomplishments over their 4+ years in the program. Among those accomplishments include a four game winning streak in bowl games. The seniors are hungry to finish most of their careers undefeated in bowl games and to set up the next year for the returning players.
"I'm ready to move on, but I'm ready to win and help set up the guys for next year" linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. "I hope to continue it (bowl win streak), and I hope to send the seniors out right."
It's arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in BYU hoops history, and it concludes Saturday at gleaming new Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, as the Cougars face the undefeated and nationally-ranked Ducks.
10-0 Oregon (No. 11 USA Today/No. 13 AP) is the fourth ranked team BYU has faced during its pre-West Coast Conference slate, thereby setting a new school record for most Top 20/25 teams faced in the non-conference portion of the regular season schedule.
So far, BYU has come up empty in games against ranked opponents, losing to Iowa State (8-0), Wichita State (11-0) and UMass (10-0). The Cougars' other setback was at Utah (10-1), so while the records are of little consolation to head coach Dave Rose, he acknowledges that his team is being tested.
PROVO — With just a week remaining before facing the Washington Huskies in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, the BYU Cougars returned to practice on Thursday to officially begin preparations for their Pac-12 opponent.
The Cougars haven't played a football game since ending the regular season on November 30th with a win at Nevada. With finals to prepare for, and with several players dealing with injuries, the break came at a good time.
"I feel fresh out there," linebacker Alani Fua said. "I feel rested, like the beginning of the season again."
PROVO — Coach Dave Rose joined Greg Wrubell and the Cougar faithful at Malawi's Pizza for his weekly show Tuesday night. Coach Rose reviewed his team's effort against Prairie View A&M and Utah before previewing the Cougars' upcoming matchup with No. 11 Oregon on Saturday.
"We played really well on Wednesday night (against PVAMU) and I thought our guys bounced back well from our loss against UMASS last Saturday." The Cougars were beat Saturday by rival Utah 81-64 and struggled all game. "I think the most disappointing thing was that we didn't really recognize how we were playing and we couldn't find a way to fix that."
Against Utah, the Cougars struggled again from the free throw line as they shot only 54.8% from the line. "We didn't shoot the ball well at the free throw line and that puts guys sideways sometimes on how we want to execute because maybe they don't want to go back to that foul line after they've missed a couple." Coach Rose also expanded on the Cougars offensive deficiencies from Saturday saying, "We played hard and we challenged, but we were all over the place and we weren't ourselves. We didn't have patience at all offensively and instead of trying to get the best shot, we took the first shot. We never really clicked and found ourselves."
The last time BYU recorded eight consecutive basketball victories against the University of Utah, the game of basketball itself was barely 20 years old.
It was March 2, 1912, when the Cougars beat Utah for an eighth straight time, having won first eight games in the all-time series.
Flash forward more than a century, and BYU is poised to match that historical streak, with the Cougars taking a seven-game run of wins into Saturday night's meeting at the Huntsman Center.
After losing out to UNLV in a late-summer recruiting battle, BYU has ultimately landed 6-foot-6, 230-pound power forward Jamal Aytes.
BYU basketball head coach Dave Rose announced on Friday that Aytes will join the Cougar program; Aytes has signed a scholarship agreement with BYU, thus completing his transfer from UNLV.
PROVO &mdash: Defense doesn't only win championships; it also wins regular season games -- especially road ones against undefeated and nationally-ranked opponents.
Defensive struggles have been the thorn in the Cougars' paws this season and were the theme of Tuesday night's installment of the weekly "BYU Basketball with Dave Rose" radio show at Malawi's Pizza at the Shops at the Riverwoods in Provo.
BYU's high-paced offense ranks 8th nationally at 89.9 points per game, but it's 80.4 points allowed ranks 318th nationally out of 352 teams. Last Saturday's game against No. 21 UMass was no improvement. The Cougars lost 105-96 -- the most points surrendered in a BYU defeat since losing to Arizona State 106-95 in 1993.
BYU opened the week as one of the top scoring teams in the country; the Cougars' 89.9 points-per-game average ranked 8th among all Division I teams, while their speedy pace of play ranked second nationally in terms of tempo.
On the defensive end, BYU's 80.4 points per game allowed ranks 318th nationally, and while the name of the game is simply to score more points than the opponent, the Cougars are giving added attention to team defense with Prairie View A&M and Utah on this week's slate.
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