Cougars 'Mean' business in return to Marriott Center

Cougars 'Mean' business in return to Marriott Center

(Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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Following a 2-1 week that included wins over previously-undefeated Texas and previously-undefeated Utah State, and a loss to still-unbeaten (and nationally-ranked) Wichita State, the BYU hoopsters are back on the home hardwoods Tuesday night, meeting up with the 5-3 Mean Green from North Texas.

After his team's Monday practice at the Marriott Center, BYU head coach Dave Rose said he expects "a real fast-paced game" with a team that like BYU, ranks among the highest-tempo teams in the country. The Cougars are 2nd in Pomeroy adjusted tempo stats, while North Texas is 44th.

"These guys are really quick," Rose told reporters in his post-practice media session. "They play fast, and their guards are really good dribble-penetrators."

"They get the ball to the rim, and they've got a couple if good three-point shooters that come off the bench. Their (starting) big guy (Keith Coleman) might be the best running big guy that we have faced; he can really get out and run to the rim, and they get the ball to him pretty well.

"We will have a lot of the same issues that we had with Texas in this game, trying to get back, get the ball stopped and get them into a half-court offense because they're really good in transition."

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While North Texas has won three games in a row coming into Provo for the first time since 1989, the Mean Green don't have the name value of some of the other teams on BYU's schedule. Five of the teams in the latest Top 25 polls can be found on BYU's 2013-14 schedule, in addition to tradition-rich programs teams like Stanford and Texas.

Rose says "sometimes you play ranked teams and you are pretty impressed and they're really good, but sometimes the unranked ranked teams are a little bit better and a little bit tougher but just haven't got the publicity yet... so the one thing I do believe is that every game is a real challenge for our guys, and that will help us as we move along."

"You've gotta get ready and come every night to play."

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Rose said last Saturday's win over Utah State was impressive in that "we competed really well as a group together...we didn't do everything right but our effort was so good that it made it really tough on them. That's when you've got guys helping each other trusting each other."

"The best thing about that game is is that we really grew as a group in our ability to trust each other."

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Asked about Tyler Haws (abdominal strain), Kyle Collinsworth (hip contusion) and Eric Mika (eye abrasion), all of whom have dealt with injuries in the early part of the season, Rose said all appear to have made it through their maladies with minimal residual effects, but added that "anytime a player gets hurt--even the experienced guys--when they come back, you don't really know the extent of where they're at."

"These guys are playing near hardest, the best they can," said Rose, "but you don't really know how hurt they are because they don't want to let you know."

"That's kind of the issue with Eric; he's a tough kid, he's a physical kid, and what we hoped as a staff was that when he came back those would still be his main traits, that he would still be a physical guy and he would not back away.

"If the (protective) glasses have helped him continue to be able to stick his body in there, then that is a good thing, but the game he played the other night was just fantastic--not only his ability to score, but his ability to rebound at really crucial times for us, offensively and defensively, gave us an anchor in the middle."

"It was a really good feeling."

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BYU and North Texas tip is at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday night at the Marriott Center. Pregame coverage gets underway at 6:00 on KSL Newsradio, BYU Radio and byucougars.com.

You can hear post-practice interviews with Rose and Tyler Haws in "Cougar Cuts," above left.

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Greg Wrubell

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