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The BYU Cougar hoopsters opened their two-game run at the Acropolis of Athens Tournament earlier Tuesday, dropping an 83-54 decision to the Greek National Team.
Stephen Rogers led the way with 18 points, while Charles Abouo added 16. Returning senior Noah Hartsock was not operating at full strength, having just recovered from a three-day bout with the flu. He had foul trouble early and finished with four second half points. Brock Zylstra chipped in with eight points, newcomer Josh Sharp scored five, while freshman Damarcus Harrison added three. Greece was led by former Jazzman Kosta Koufos' 24 points.
BYU trailed 52-26 at halftime, before playing the host team to a second half in which the Cougars were outscored 31-28.
All in all, it was a gutsy showing by a Cougar team that found itself physically outmatched by the taller, bulkier and very experienced Greek squad, which after the 2010 World Championship ranked as the ranked as the fourth best team in the world.
BYU players and staffers on Twitter after the game called it a tough contest against a good team that played well together; all appreciated the value in competing against a team the caliber of the Greeks.
Indeed, the opportunity to match up with talent the likes of the Greek and Italian national squads can only pay dividends down the line. The incomparable experiences in August will surely help the team next February, even as key players remain on the sidelines for BYU.
Center Brandon Davies is hoped to rejoin the program this fall, while Chris Collinsworth continues rehabilitation after in-season knee surgery. Point guard Matt Carlino's first game eligible will be the December 17th home game with Baylor. Collinsworth and Carlino are both on the trip to Greece.
The Cougars will turn around and take on Italy Wednesday at 9:45am MT. The game can be viewed at this link.
The Italians outlasted Bulgaria 74-71 in Tuesday's first tourney game; NBA stars led the way, with Danillo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets) scoring 16, Marco Bellinelli (New Orleans Hornets) adding 18 and Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors) pacing Italy with 19.
On the football front, the Cougars held a single practice earlier today, and with head coach Bronco Mendenhall having cancelled the team's Wednesday practice, camp has formally ended. By Thursday, the scout team will be formalized and the Cougars will have transitioned into Ole Miss practices.
For today, the team concluded practice with the 11-on-11 "team" session consisting solely of "blue zone" work (starting at the defensive 20-yard line).
Jake Heaps: 3/5, 29 yds, TD
Riley Nelson: 0/0; 1 rush, 2 yds
MacKay Jacobson: 1 rec, 16 yds
Dallin Cutler: 1 rec, 7 yds, TD
J.D. Falslev: 1 rec, 6 yds
Justin Sorensen: 1/1 PAT; 6/6 FGs (36, 36, 36, 43, 43, 43; moved from hash-to-middle-to-hash)
Off the field, BYU has announced a two-year series with the University of Houston, starting at Houston in 2013.
BYU now has seven games on the schedule for 2013, while an expected meeting with Utah has yet to be announced:
09/07 - Texas
09/14 - at Hawaii
09/21 - Boise State
10/04 - at Utah State
10/12 - Georgia Tech
10/19 - at Houston
11/16 - at Notre Dame