PROVO — This season’s first broadcast of the weekly “BYU Basketball with Dave Rose” radio show came Wednesday night, on the heels of a thriller in Logan the night before. After a slow start, the Cougars put up 60 points in the second half to defeat Utah State 91-81. Head coach Dave Rose says the victory was a testament to the personality and potential of the year’s team.
“Last night’s game and the feel of that group was as good as we’ve ever had,” Rose said. “I just think everybody was in it for each other to try to win it, and we had some really stellar performances from two or three guys, but a great team win. I like this group. I think this group really has potential to have a great season.”
Tuesday was the first time in almost 15 years that the Cougars were able to win at the Spectrum. Rose said he relied heavily on the veteran leadership of his upperclassmen, who put up 86 of BYU’s 91 points.
The last time BYU won a basketball game at Utah State's Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, head coach Dave Rose was still a Cougar assistant coach, while his oldest current player wasn't yet in middle school.
It was almost 15 years ago--Jan. 8, 2000--that BYU last defeated the Aggies on their home hardwoods. Six successive meetings in Logan have ended with USU emerging victorious, most recently in the 2011-12 season.
Since Rose became head coach in 2005-06, the BYU-Utah State series stands 5-3 in BYU's favor, with all three Aggie wins in Logan. Three of the five Cougar victories have taken place at the Marriott Center, with the other two occurring at Salt Lake City's Energy Solutions Arena.
PROVO — As the Cougars approach their final regular season game versus the University of California, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall knows there is still an opportunity for this year’s team to reach its full potential.
“We still haven’t reached this team’s potential, and one way to do that is to have a great week of practice (and) to play well this week against a very good opponent on the road,” he said.
Mendenhall’s team will undoubtedly need to be sharp on defense this weekend as it faces an offense that ranks fifth in passing yards and 13th in points scored.
PROVO — BYU will finish its regular season campaign at Cal on Saturday and that means the end is near for 26 seniors. Those seniors include unique stories from Christian Stewart’s winding path to Jordan Leslie the one-year wonder. They are looking at a series of finals, a final regular season game, a final bowl game, last team meetings, and even last media interview sessions. But first, last Saturday they said goodbye to playing at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“The last game in the stadium, it was tough,” said senior Craig Bills. “It was sad, growing up wanting to play there, watching my brothers play there. It was sad knowing it’s my last game.”
Bills says there is still a lot of season left, he plans on trying out for the NFL and completing his last few semesters of school.
PROVO — The Cougars put up 64 points on Saturday in a confidence-building shutout over Savannah State. Now with three-straight wins under their belt, the Cougars set their sights on a 5-6 Cal team that has one of the strongest offenses in the country.
Cal has scored 30+ points in all but two of its games this year. It's 15th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 38.5 points per game. BYU isn’t far behind at 24th in scoring offense; it averages 35.6 points per game, so the possibility for a shootout is high. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall says he hopes it doesn’t come to that on Saturday.
“I’m not sure how many teams have kept up with Cal in term of scoring,” Mendenhall said. “I think we have to play good enough defense to make sure it’s not just that alone — in terms of a scoring match only. We have to play good enough defense to where it just doesn’t become that.”
PROVO — Heading into his last home game of the season, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall is determined to keep his team focused this week despite playing 0-11 Savannah State.
Mendenhall explained how the matchup with the Tigers came to be, saying that a bigger opponent was in place until a contract was broken late in the scheduling process, causing the Cougars' staff to scramble to find an opponent.
“We had an opponent scheduled, would’ve been a fantastic and intriguing matchup right now, and somewhere along the line all I got was word that that game will not happen,” explained Mendenhall.
PROVO — On Oct. 2, Taysom Hill was a Heisman candidate in the national spotlight leading an undefeated BYU team ranked 18th in the country. On Oct. 3 at home in a loss against the Utah State Aggies, Hill saw his season end with a broken leg, and he knew it pretty quickly.
“I remember the play, I remember thinking that, hey I just broke my leg,” Hill said. “When it happened I immediately reached down and grabbed my leg in pain and then walked off the field. As they were examining me I finally just told them, like look Steve, our trainer, it's broken.”
Hill is six weeks into his six-month recovery and says that rehab is getting more intense, but he is on schedule. This isn’t the first time Hill has suffered a significant season-ending injury during a Utah State game; in 2012 he injured his LCL six weeks into the season. Hill says that experience helped and this time is different, he is now married and in the midst of the intense BYU junior core finance program. He said he’s been able to take his competitive fire and aim it at academics, but more importantly marriage has given him perspective.
PROVO — The Cougars are looking at their 10th straight bowl game after securing their sixth win against UNLV. However, Miami is still a month away, and defensive coordinator Nick Howell says there are still two regular season games to play, and the team isn’t content with just going to a bowl game.
“I would say that we are not satisfied,” Howell said. “It’s good that we’re gong to a bowl game. We’ll be satisfied when we win this week, and if we win the next week and if we win our bowl game, that’ll bring some satisfaction. But to say just ‘yeah, we’re gong to the bowl game, we got six wins’… if we stay satisfied with that, I don’t thank that’s a good deal.
"But there could be some satisfaction out there from fighting through this thing and doing our best the next couple weeks," he added.
Having opened their 2014-15 campaign with a home win over Long Beach State, the BYU Cougar hoopsters will this week play home games on back-to-back nights before heading to Hawaii and next week's Maui Invitational.
Arkansas Little-Rock will visit the Marriott Center on Tuesday night, with Division III foe Southern Virginia providing the opposition on Wednesday night. Thursday will see the team take off for the islands, where three games in three days await next week.
BYU head coach Dave Rose says the accelerated early-season pace could pay off in the islands.
PROVO — Coming off a 42-23 win over UNLV on a cold night at LaVell Edwards Stadium BYU now sets its sights on and begins preparations for its final home game of the season this Saturday afternoon versus the Savannah State Tigers.
Despite Savannah State’s 0-11 record BYU’s players and coaches are determined to keep focus heading into this week’s matchup not only for the team’s sake, but also for the 26 seniors who will play their last home game in front of the Cougar faithful.
BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall explained that he doesn’t want to reminisce too much with three games still remaining on the schedule, including the bowl game in Miami, but emphasizes that the team and coaching staff does want to ensure a great finish and experiences together for the seniors.