PROVO BYU posted a 5-1 record in November, including a win over Louisville and a near-upset of North Carolina.
But Cougar guard Lee Cummard says his team, which is riding a five-game winning streak including a pair of road wins last week is much-improved since then.
"I think we're playing even better than we were playing in November," he said. "We were really inconsistent back then. We're getting consistent play out of everybody and collectively as a team. Our defense is a lot better than it was then, and we keep getting better overall."
BYU is looking to keep on rolling tonight at 7, when it entertains TCU at the Marriott Center.
The Horned Frogs are considered to be one of the most athletic and physical teams in the Mountain West Conference. But will that be enough for TCU to snap the Cougars' five-game win streak and their 42-game homecourt winning streak?
Speaking of streaks, coach Neil Dougherty's Frogs, who started MWC play with a 3-1 mark, have lost three consecutive games.
"TCU is very athletic. They're a team that always causes us some matchup problems," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "They're tough-minded, they play hard and they compete. When they're shooting the ball well, they're difficult to cover."
"They've got great players," Cummard said. "We've got to come in here and match their aggressiveness and physicality. They're always one of the hardest-playing teams and most physical teams in the conference."
Still, the Frogs may be without their top player, junior Henry Salter, who is No. 9 in the MWC in scoring (14.1 ppg) and leads the league in 3-point shooting at 52.4 percent. Salter suffered an ankle injury against UNLV a week ago, and he did not play last Saturday against Air Force. He is listed as questionable for tonight's contest.
If Salter can't play, it will impact TCU. "You're talking about one of the top two or three 3-pointer shooters in the country, percentage-wise," Rose said. "It makes a real big difference. They played the last two games with one of their top three guys. That's a big factor."
Besides Salter, the Frogs have two other talented scorers, forward Kevin Langford (14.4 ppg) and guard Brent Hackett (11.8 ppg).
Dougherty knows knocking off BYU in Provo is a tall order. "They're an excellent basketball team," he said. "They have a lot of good players, and they play well together. They probably play as well together as any team in our league. They've been very good. They're a good team anywhere, and they play better at home."
TCU is expected to test the Cougars defensively."Their athleticism, quickness, size and style of play is something that's kind of unique to TCU," Rose said. "They press a lot and then get in half-court situations where they trap. They change their defenses a lot. We like to play at a fast pace. But in a game like this, you have to be able to play at a fast pace, then be able to read what exactly the defense that is presenting itself then be able to react to it. Doing all that in an organized manner to where you don't turn the ball over is one of the big challenges. They like to force the action defensively and press a lot. We'll have to handle the ball, not turn it over and really be able to read and react."
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