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BYU basketball: Big challenges ahead for BYU basketball team

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 12:46 p.m. MDT

BYU's Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws laugh after a made shot as BYU and Virginia Tech play Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Energy Solutions arena. Haws scored a game high 42 points and Davies added 17 as BYU won 97-71. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) BYU's Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws laugh after a made shot as BYU and Virginia Tech play Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Energy Solutions arena. Haws scored a game high 42 points and Davies added 17 as BYU won 97-71. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO — BYU is playing its best basketball of the season right now.

And that's good news for the Cougars, because they are entering a dangerous stretch of their West Coast Conference schedule.

Things are about to get tougher.

Riding a season-high six-game winning streak, BYU — which is tied for first place in the league standings and is one of three teams with perfect records in the WCC, along with San Diego and No. 9 Gonzaga — hosts defending WCC champion Saint Mary's Wednesday (9 p.m., MT, ESPNU).

The Gaels (13-4, 2-1) defeated San Francisco Saturday, 78-72, as guard Matthew Dellavedova scored 19 and Stephen Holt chipped in 16. Saint Mary's hit 8-of-8 free throws in the final 45 seconds to seal the victory.

After facing the Gaels, the Cougars host San Diego (10-8, 3-0) next Saturday, which will be followed by a showdown at Gonzaga (16-1, 3-0) on Jan. 24.

BYU (14-4, 4-0) is coming off an impressive 82-64 victory at Santa Clara last Saturday.

The Cougars shot nearly 54 percent from the floor, and five players — Tyler Haws (24), Brock Zylstra (15), Matt Carlino (13), Brandon Davies (13) and Anson Winder (10) — scored in double figures. Defensively, BYU held the Broncos to 38.5 percent shooting.

Was it the Cougars' most complete game of the season?

"Definitely," said Haws. "All of our guys are locked in. We're playing good basketball right now … I think for sure that's the most complete 40 minutes that our guys have put together. It came at a big time. I feel like we've got it rolling right now in conference (play). I'm happy with where we're at."

In its last four games, BYU has outscored its opponents 187-109 in the second half.

Coach Dave Rose, who will be seeking his 200th career victory Wednesday, said his team probably played its best overall game against Loyola Marymount on Jan. 3. But he called the win at Santa Clara "our most aggressive, efficient" game.

Rose praised Carlino, who scored 13 points, dished out eight assists and had zero turnovers against the Broncos.

"When you get that kind of play from your point guard, you're pretty efficient," Rose said.

In the moments after the Cougars' win at Santa Clara, Haws wasn't in the mood to look ahead to the big game against Saint Mary's.

"We're going to enjoy this one (Saturday night), then we're going to get into it," Haws said. "We'll be ready to go."

The Gaels are the only team BYU hasn't beaten since joining the league last year. The Cougars dropped both regular-season games to Saint Mary's, including an 80-66 setback at the Marriott Center last January.

BYU posted a dismal 1-4 record against the Gaels and the 'Zags a year ago.

Gonzaga defeated Saint Mary's at home last Thursday, 83-78.

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