It wouldn't come as a surprise if BYU was looking ahead just a little bit now.
The Cougars, 8-3 and in second place in the WAC, face 3-7 Hawaii tonight at 7:30 in the Marriott Center. The Rainbows beat the Cougars a month ago in the Islands, but BYU has improved considerably since then and is a legitimate contender for the league title.Which is why the Cougars might be tempted to let their gaze wander slightly more down the road than it should - toward Thursday's visit to the Pit to play New Mexico, and next Saturday's short trip to the Huntsman Center to play the 10-1 Utes.
BYU and Utah each have five games left to play this season, and BYU has the tougher schedule - if only because it is trying to play catch-up. After next week's road trip, the Cougars play Air Force on the road and Utah in the Marriott Center. Besides the two games with BYU, Utah plays San Diego State tonight, then Wyoming at home and, a week later, Colorado State on the road.
Of course, what all this really means is that BYU doesn't have the luxury of looking past Hawaii. BYU Coach Roger Reid thinks that won't be a problem.
"They beat us, and that's enough incentive," he said. "Besides, we can't afford to lose at home and stay in the race."
The Rainbows have had their troubles on WAC road trips this season, winning just once. Here's an example of the difference in the 'Bows at home and on the road: In Hawaii, they took Utah to overtime before losing, 63-60; in Salt Lake City, the Utes pounded them by 20.
Rainbow forward Ray Reed embarked on this road trip as the WAC's leading scorer, at 20.3 points per game, but he scored just nine against the Utes on four-of-13 shooting.
Hawaii is not a big team, but it blocks out hard and even managed to outrebound Utah behind 11 boards by 6-6 Tim Shepherd.
The game will be televised live on KSL-TV (Channel 5) and rebroadcast at 10:30 by KBYU-TV (Channel 11).