PROVO The Cougars have two more nonconference games, one at home and the other on Tobacco Road before opening up Mountain West play. The first comes tonight when BYU hosts Loyola Marymount in the Marriott Center.
The Cougars (10-2) and Loyola Marymount (3-11) tip-off is at 7:05 p.m. The game will be televised live on The mtn. Next week the Cougars travel to Winston-Salem and take on Wake Forest on Tuesday before opening the league season at home with Colorado State.
BYU enters tonight's game fresh off a disappointing loss at Boise State on Saturday, a game in which the Cougars led by 12 then fell behind by eight, a 20-point swing, then lost. That setback on the road cost the Cougars a spot in the Top 25 poll.
Upon the return to Provo, senior guard Ben Murdock said practices "have been intense."
Loyola Marymount? "They beat Boise State at Boise," said Murdock. "That's all you have to say."
BYU coach Dave Rose said the Lions pose a completely different challenge than the Broncos from five days ago. BSU had outside shooters that forced his defense to spread itself out, but Loyola likes to drive the ball and score off the penetration dribble. "Their post players like to get it deep and put it over the rim," said Rose.
The Cougars would like to get some traction back after the loss at Boise State.
"I believe there are always positives you can bring out of a loss," said Rose. "In spots, we played very well. We got some lift by some players off the bench.
"The thing I told our players is we need to play more consistently. We need to do so over the entire course of the game."
In that game, the Cougars allowed Boise State to score easy buckets in transition with long passes over the top. Rose said that is not what the Cougars are used to doing on defense.
"Mental breakdowns, that's what they were. We've addressed it."
He also emphasized teamwork this week.
"We've worked on getting more shots for teammates instead of getting shots for ourselves, and I think that's brought the team closer together," said Rose.
The Lions will change up defense on the Cougars, and BYU will need to recognize that and return to the sharp passing and ball-sharing mentality that he believes got them 10 quick wins in December and November, said the coach.
"We've really stressed teamwork, that we're better playing as a team than for ourselves," said Murdock.
The Lions are led by their guards, 6-5 Orlando Johnson (12.6 points per game) and 6-3 Shawn Deadwiler (10.5 ppg). The other starters include 6-9 Marko Denc, 6-9 Tim Diedenchs and 5-10 Corey Counts.
Cougar reserve center Gavin MacGregor (foot) has practiced the past week and admits his foot is still sore but his cardio conditioning is surprisingly good.Rose said he will make a decision soon if he will hold MacGregor out and seek another year of eligibility for the senior, who has really been a part of NCAA basketball for two seasons.
Cougars on the air
Loyola Marymount (3-11) at BYU (10-2)
Today, 7 p.m., Marriot Center