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.
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