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PROVO — The BYU Cougars practiced at the Marriott Center Friday afternoon before busing to Salt Lake City for Saturday's matchup with the Utah State Aggies at Energy Solutions Arena.
BYU has had quite a bit of success playing on the home court of the NBA's Utah Jazz. The Cougars have won seven-straight games played at ESA; which include victories over Utah State, San Francisco, Hawaii, Arizona, Oregon, Montana and Virginia Tech.
"We had a great game up there a few years ago with Utah State at Energy Solutions Arena," Coach Rose said. "With the experience of their team, starting four seniors, and the youth of our group and where we've been and the fact that we're coming off a loss, it should be a really exciting game. We're looking forward to it."
The Cougars have won four out of the last six meetings against the Aggies. In those wins, BYU's average margin of victory has been 6.5 points. As to why the games have been so close, Coach Rose believes it's because both teams have been very good.
"When you look at the programs over the last eight to 10 years there have been good teams and good teams are hard to beat," Rose said. "Stew has one of his really special teams this year with with the combination of their experience and the depth at each position. I think it's going to be a real battle."
While BYU vs. Utah is the big-ticket rivalry in football, BYU and Utah State has become a great rivalry in basketball. Guard Tyler Haws knows how important it is to win these in-state matchups.
"It's really important for us," said Haws. "Any in-state team that we're playing against is always a game that we look forward to and we got to be ready for. We know Utah State, they've got a bunch of guys that just battle and are tough hard-nosed guys...it'll be fun."
Besides the play of freshman big man Eric Mika, the Cougars have received contributions from another freshman, Frank Bartley IV.
The 6'3" guard from Baton Rouge, LA is averaging eight points and three rebounds per game. Bartley's best night as a Cougar was against the Texas Longhorns, when he scored 11 points off the bench including hitting a career-high three 3-pointers.
Bartley says he's playing with confidence because Coach Rose has confidence in him.
"I play with a lot of confidence right now because he trusts me," Bartley said. "He wants me to play my game; that's the best part. When we're on the court, he lets all of us play...he wants us to play with that confidence."
The last time BYU played at Energy Solutions Arena was December 29, 2012 against Virginia Tech. The Cougars beat the Hokies 97-71 behind a career-high 42 points from Tyler Haws.
"I don't know," Haws laughingly said when asked if we can expect another 42-point performance. "I like playing at Energy Solutions; it's a fun place to play. There will be a fun crowd tomorrow so hopefully it's a good game."
You can listen to post-practice audio from Coach Rose, Tyler Haws and Frank Bartley by clicking on the links in "Cougar Cuts," above left.