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BYU's biggest basketball game of the season is set for Wednesday night at the Marriott Center, as the 14-4, 4-0 Cougars host the 13-4, 2-1 Gaels of St. Mary's in a game crucial to both teams' conference crown and NCAA Tournament hopes.
BYU head coach Dave Rose on Tuesday called the Gaels "a team that expects to go on the road and win, and they've been really successful with it...and they were successful in here last year, so hopefully our guys are ready."
The Gaels were one of two West Coast Conference teams to win in Provo last season; BYU has already avenged a homecourt loss to Loyola Marymount. The Gaels are the last team to beat BYU in Provo, recording an 80-66 victory on January 28th of last year. The Cougars are on a 12-game home win streak since.
Asked if his players will have last year's Marriott Center setback as conscious subtext to tomorrow night's game, Rose acknowledged that "there will be maybe a little extra in their preparation and their thought process."
"I hope those types of things don't determine how hard you play," said Rose after practice on Tuesday evening. "I hope our teams play with consistency as far as their effort is concerned. This will be a really competitive game."
BYU went through most of Tuesday's practice without starting point guard Matt Carlino; Rose says Carlino is dealing with "upper back spasms."
"Just kind of happened this morning," said Rose. "Came to school, was fine, and then it kind of locked up him, so he's going through treatments today."
Rose called it a "new thing" for Carlino, who according to the coach has experienced some similar issues in the past. The timing could not be worse for BYU or Carlino, who is playing his best basketball of the season as the Cougars have won six games in row, including their first four WCC games.
With 199 wins, Rose is being asked a lot about the prospect of his 200th win. He said today that "the best thing about those types of milestones is when they're over and people stop talking about them, and you just move on."
Wednesday night's game is a late-night tip for ESPNU; pregame coverage begins at 8:00pm on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM and BYU Radio (SiriusXM 143).