Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
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The last time BYU recorded eight consecutive basketball victories against the University of Utah, the game of basketball itself was barely 20 years old.
It was March 2, 1912, when the Cougars beat Utah for an eighth straight time, having won first eight games in the all-time series.
Flash forward more than a century, and BYU is poised to match that historical streak, with the Cougars taking a seven-game run of wins into Saturday night's meeting at the Huntsman Center.
BYU head coach Dave Rose, who has won 11 of the last 12 rivalry games, said on Friday that despite his program's current string of successful results, "I think the rivalry is pretty much like it has been since I've been the coach here."
"I've been here for 17 years," said Rose, "and it has kind of gone back and forth and back and forth, and every game is a memorable game."
Since the two programs were separated as conference colleagues when Utah joined the Pac-12 and BYU joined the West Coast Conference, the twice-annual meetings have been pared down to a single get-together on a rotating home-floor basis, and Rose acknowledges that has somewhat altered the complexion of the series.
"The difference in the last couple of years," Rose says, "is that you're only going to get them one time and they're only going to get us one time."
"These games will stand alone. That's the feel now; you get one shot and hopefully you'll play your best."
Both teams are playing pretty well heading into Saturday's showdown. BYU is 7-3 with a top 25 RPI and top 50 standing in the Sagarin and Pomeroy rankings, with one of the strongest schedule strengths in college basketball.
Utah is 8-1 and on a ten-game home win streak dating back to last season. The Utes are a top 100 team in the Sagarin and Pomeroy rankings, and while the Utes' schedule has been one of the weaker slates in college hoops, Rose says that Larry Krystkowiak's club is "really good."
"You look at their offensive numbers," Rose says, "and they're really impressive."
The Utes are among the best shooting teams in the country, leading the nation in two-point percentage, and ranked in the top five in effective field-goal percentage. Utah is scoring 86.1 points per game--good enough to rank 16th nationally (BYU is 3rd, at 90.8 ppg).
"Their defensive numbers have always been good," Rose said on Friday. "Larry has always done a really good job defensively with that group, and now I think that he's got an offense that is an equal or match to it."
"The fact they have won ten home games in a row is tough enough; we've got to go in there and play well to try and break their confidence right now."
Rose says the most important thing tomorrow will be to "get your players to feel the excitement of the game and to feel the importance of the game then to let them actually go out and play; put a game plan in that's simple, and not real complicated--don't try to change a lot of things--and have your guys go in with a real confident attitude, then know that the whole key to this thing is to compete for 40 minutes consistently with your group, whether its an offensive possession or a defensive possession."
"Sometimes sometimes coaches and players feel that you've gotta put a perfect game together," says Rose. "I just feel that our effort has to be perfect."
"They (Utah) are going to have a great game plan; they've got really good players and there are going to be possessions where they are better than we are, and that can't get you down that can send you sideways as far as your effort is concerned. Your effort has to be consistent throughout the whole game, and hopefully our guys are ready for it."
You can hear post-practice interviews with Rose, guards Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth and Matt Carlino, and center Eric Mika, in "Cougar Cuts," top left.
Saturday's game can be heard on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM, BYU Radio (SiriusXM 143) and byucougars.com; pregame coverage starts at 7:00 p.m., with the tipoff at 8:00.
Cougar Sports Saturday will start the day's coverage, beginning at noon on KSL.