PROVO How did BYU react in practice following the humbling 29-point loss at UNLV?
Cougar players described themselves as fired up, motivated, anxious, excited and eager to play following Thursday's practice session.
The fact the Utah game looms ahead has helped put Vegas in the rearview mirror in the Marriott Center as Dave Rose put his troops through a second practice since returning home.
"They are a competitive bunch. Our energy level may not have been what I liked, but they came out and worked very hard."
The Cougars (12-5, 1-1) and Utes (10-5, 1-1) meet Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
"We came out, got better and worked on things and just tried to get better," said junior Lee Cummard. "We tried to put UNLV behind us and keep playing together and for each other," he said.
"I thought it was a good practice, the energy level of our team was good, for the first time in a while our team came out excited to play and we got a lot accomplished," said center Trent Plaisted.
Most players on the team tuned in to watch the Utes play at San Diego State on Wednesday night. Cummard said the Utes look to be an improved team with plenty of talent.
"I watched the team; they run some good stuff and have very good players with a big man in the middle who is one of the best in the conference. They have a little bit of a swagger and play with more confidence than last year," said Cummard. "They still have just as good of players, but they have more of a swagger."
Plaisted, who ended Thursday's practice by burying a free throw that prevented the entire team from doing another wind sprint, said the Cougars must forget about the loss and focus on the Utes.
"The thing about a game like that (UNLV) is that you can't let it compound, you have to set it behind you and get on to the next game," Plaisted said. "If you don't, that would be the wrong thing to do; learn from it, but let it go."
That include's Plaisted's 1-for-10 shooting from the line against the Rebels.
Plaisted and reserve center Chris Miles know they'll have their hands full defending Utah's Luke Nevill.
"Luke is a very good player, and I have a lot of respect for him and his game. The thing I notice this year is he's helping his team win games, not that he didn't last year," Plaisted said, "but the biggest compliment I could give him or anybody is that they help win, and that's what he's doing."
Miles will be playing in his first Utah game since going on an LDS mission, and he has never faced Nevill.
"I've never played against him before," said Miles. "He's long and he's a good player and it will be a lot of fun, the kind of game you get excited to play."
Miles' role on the Cougar team has changed with the injury to senior backup center Vuk Ivanovic (foot stress fracture). He's getting more minutes, and he will be counted on to be more of a threat on the offensive end of the court.
"At the first of the year, I knew my focus would have to be defense, so that's what I've concentrated on now with the additional minutes now that Vuk is out," said Miles."Now coach wants the five spot to have an impact as a scorer, to be a presence on the offensive end, so I'm working hard to focus on being a threat there, to be able to score when I'm needed or kick it out. I need to be less of a role player and more of an impact player."