PROVO — Since beating Southern Miss on the road Wednesday in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals, BYU has held a couple of practices at the Marriott Center in preparation for its next challenge.
On Sunday, the Cougars depart for New York City and the NIT semifinals. No. 3 seed BYU meets No. 2 Baylor Tuesday (5 p.m., MT, ESPN2) at historic Madison Square Garden.
"We're all very excited," said guard Tyler Haws. "Growing up, you always have dreams of playing at a place like that."
The Cougars played one of its best games of the season in a 79-62 victory at No. 1 Southern Miss. BYU snapped the Golden Eagles' 30-game home court non-conference winning streak.
"There is nothing more exciting and satisfying than going on the road and beating a really good team in a hostile environment," said coach Dave Rose. "It's way better than winning at home, and I love winning at home. But winning out there on the road, in front of a sellout crowd."
In the triumph over Southern Miss, Haws scored 25, Brock Zylstra had 23, Matt Carlino added 15 and Brandon Davies chipped in 12.
The Cougars say they've been working hard to get ready to face Baylor. BYU fell to the Bears in Waco, Texas, on Dec. 21, 79-64.
"The turnaround was tough on these guys with a Monday game (against Mercer), the trip to Mississippi, then coming back home," Rose said. "(Saturday's) practice was really good. It was really spirited. Our preparation's good. It's a game plan that we don't have to start from the beginning at. There are a lot of changes that we have made for our game plan for Baylor from the first time we played them. Our guys really got after it today. It was a good practice."
INJURY UPDATE: Forward Josh Sharp, who suffered an Achilles injury a couple of weeks ago, is improving. But it's not yet known whether he will be able to play this week in New York.
"He didn't practice today. He's running around pretty good on the side," Rose said. "He ran some stairs today without a limp. It's getting better, but we'll have to wait and see."
OPENING DAY IN NEW YORK: Carlino is a huge New York Yankees fan, and it just so happens that the Yankees open the 2013 season Monday at Yankee Stadium against the Boston Red Sox.
Of course, Carlino would love to attend that game, since he'll be in the Big Apple.
"If it can work out, I'm going to be there," Carlino said. "I don't know, though. I don't think it's on the itinerary. If we win the Baylor game, we'll get to go to the next one (between the Yankees and Red Sox)."
PLAYING IN APRIL: When BYU takes on Baylor, it will be doing something it hasn't done in 100 years — playing in the month of April.
The last time it happened was way back on April 2, 1903, when the Cougars fell to Colorado, 16-10.
"We did talk about the 1903 team today," Rose said. "It's nice when you can have little things to shoot for. April 2 is the latest that BYU's ever played a basketball game into the calendar year. It will be in 2013, and it happened in 1903. I encouraged the guys today to score a couple of more than that team did."
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