PROVO — It is tough to gloss over the loss of Cougar sharpshooter Stephen Rogers as BYU hosts No. 6 Baylor in today's matinee appearance in the Marriott Center.
Rogers suffered a knee injury in practice Thursday and will be out 2-4 weeks following surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Dave Rose said Rogers bumped knees in the Utah game and that's where his issues began.
Baylor is a squad of athletic, lengthy and extremely quick players. BYU's counter against opponents with such skills is the 3-point shot. It's been the Cougars' X-factor against UNLV, San Diego State, and a myriad other foes with similar athleticism.
It will be a different neighborhood for Rose.
Rogers has played in all 10 games for the Cougars this season and is averaging 9.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He is shooting .514 percent from the field and .395 from 3-point land.
Others must now step up.
Rogers is BYU's selected sixth man — a designated home-run hitter Rose has used as a fire starter off the bench. His 6-8 length gives opposing coaches a matchup problem, as witnessed in his blitzkrieg shooting against Weber State in a span of minutes.
This is a game in which BYU's key shooters have to be sharp. Senior Noah Hartsock will bring it. His predictable production is better than a weather forecast. But the other seniors, Charles Abouo and Brock Zylstra, must deliver.
This is one game where Craig Cusick, freshman Demarcus Harrison and Anson Winder have to make a difference.
It is also the first college game ever for freshman Matt Carlino, who could be a kind of X-factor.
Carlino committed to the Indiana Hoosiers when he was a sophomore in high school, but NCAA violations and turmoil at IU left him headed to UCLA. His stay in Westwood was brief. He transferred to BYU before the Bruin season started, thus his eligibility begins today.
Carlino is an interesting solider for Rose. He could be labeled BYU's first recruit drawn to Provo as fruit of the Jimmer Fredette tree.
Carlino is a smart player who is simply an outstanding shooter. His uncle coached at Utah under Rick Majerus, and his father Mark is a basketball coach in Arizona. People say his hoops IQ is very high. He's a heady passer with great court vision and like Fredette, he is an athlete. But his greatest skill is making shots.
In BYU's two losses this season, both could be contributed to stalled play around the perimeter from the point guard position on defense and offense.
In a loss at Utah State, Rose tried to play the 6-foot-6 Zylstra at point guard, but in the final 17 minutes, it backfired when the Cougars lost a second-half lead. Indecisive play, turnovers and USU's superior point-guard play killed BYU.
Against ranked Wisconsin, the Cougars overcame a record-shooting exhibition by the Big Ten team to lead the Badgers before the half. But empty possessions by BYU's post players and the absence of a 3-point attack to chase Wisconsin's bombers cost Rose his second loss.
Without Carlino, the Cougars are 8-2.
What would they have been if they'd had him all season? Is he really all that?
Today we'll learn the answers to some of those questions.
Carlino will not start. The point-guard duty will go to Cusick or Winder and Carlino will fight for minutes from that point in the game and season.
Regardless of who it is, BYU's archers better be ready. Baylor can make a team look silly in the blink of an eye.
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