PROVO — BYU isn't easing gently into Mountain West Conference play.
The Cougars will be tested early as they open their league schedule on the road Wednesday (8 p.m., CBS-C) at UNLV. They're looking forward to the challenge of facing the Runnin' Rebels at the hostile Thomas & Mack Center.
"When you play one of the top teams in the league on their home floor early in the conference season, it's a real opportunity to see where you stand," said coach Dave Rose. "If you can get a win, then you've got a leg up and (the other conference teams) are chasing you. Home games are great, but road games are really good opportunities for your team."
It will mark a showdown between two ranked teams, as the Cougars (14-1) climbed one spot to No. 15 in The Associated Press basketball rankings Monday and moved up two places in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll to No. 14. UNLV (12-2) returned to the AP poll at No. 25.
Meanwhile, MWC preseason favorite San Diego State (15-0) jumped from No. 7 to No. 6 in both polls.
Since falling to UCLA on Dec. 18, BYU has won four consecutive games. The Cougars, who finished their non-conference schedule Saturday with a victory at home over Fresno Pacific, say they're ready to take on conference foes.
"We can't wait. The games mean a lot more," said forward Brandon Davies. "Obviously, we want to win every game. But these are the ones that really matter, when it really starts to count. (UNLV is) a great team. It's going to be a battle for us. It would be a great accomplishment if we can get the win."
Rose likes the way his team is playing going into MWC action, though Jackson Emery, Chris Collinsworth and Noah Hartsock have dealt with injuries during the first couple of months of the season.
"It's kind of been a struggle with injuries and we're still kind of fighting that. But our guys have figured out ways to win games," Rose said. "That's a real positive thing. We've got a great opportunity here on Wednesday to go down and get started in league on the road against a really, really good UNLV team. We're excited for that."
JIMMER EARNS HONORS, AGAIN: BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette was named the Mountain West Conference player of the week. It's the third time Fredette has been honored by the MWC this season and it's his 10th player of the week accolade of his career.
In wins over Buffalo and Fresno Pacific last week, Fredette averaged 23.5 points and 5.5 assists. He scored a season-high 34 points, hitting four 3-pointers, and had six assists in a 90-82 victory at Buffalo. He poured in 28 second-half points in that contest.
Last Saturday against Fresno Pacific, Fredette scored 13 points and dished out five assists in 22 minutes.
For the week, Fredette was 15-of-31 (.484) from the field, 7-of-17 from 3-point range and 10-of-12 (.833) at the free throw line.
COLLINSWORTH INJURED: Sophomore forward Chris Collinsworth injured his knee during Saturday's victory over Fresno Pacific. He missed Monday's practice because of a visit to the doctor to have the knee examined, Rose said. Collinsworth's status for Wednesday's game was unknown as of Monday night.
|1. Duke (65)||13-0||1,625||1|
|2. Ohio St.||14-0||1,551||2|
|6. San Diego St.||15-0||1,198||7|
|14. Notre Dame||12-2||688||15|
|16. Texas A&M||12-1||569||18|
|17. Kansas St.||11-3||523||17|
|18. Michigan St.||9-4||504||20|
Others receiving votes: Louisville 124, Minnesota 96, Temple 74, Wisconsin 55, Baylor 50, Florida 35, Butler 25, Wichita St. 17, North Carolina 9, Saint Mary's, Calif. 8, Gonzaga 7, Arizona 2, Cleveland St. 2, Florida St. 2, Georgia 1.