Cougars and Utes on the air
Utah (6-2) at BYU (5-3)
Saturday, 7 p.m. MST
Marriott Center, Provo
TV: BYUtv Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
PROVO — Following an unexpected midweek hiatus due to the postponement of last Wednesday's scheduled game against Utah State, BYU is set to tangle with another instate rival — Utah.
The Cougars face the Utes Saturday (7 p.m. MST, BYUtv) at the Marriott Center.
While BYU has won 10 out of the last 11 meetings with Utah, including six in a row (winning each of those contests by an average of 17 points), this is a much different Ute team.
The Cougars are coming off a 21-point loss at Iowa State (83-62) last Saturday, and Utah is coming off a 21-point victory at home last Wednesday against Boise State (76-55) — on the night the Utes paid tribute to the late Rick Majerus.
The BYU-Utah State game scheduled for Wednesday night at the Marriott Center was postponed due to the serious medical condition of Aggie forward Danny Berger that occurred during practice Tuesday. That contest will be rescheduled for a later date.
Cougar coach Dave Rose spent much of the day Wednesday watching film of the Utes, who are looking for their first win in Provo since 2005.
"It's a much-improved team," Rose said. "They're extremely good on the defensive end, very patient offensively. They share the ball really well and their shot selection is tremendous."
Utah (6-2) is riding a two-game winning streak. Guard Jarred DuBois averages a team-high 16.0 points per game, while true freshman forward Jordan Loveridge averages 12.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest.
The Cougars (5-3) enjoy playing instate foes.
"It's fun," senior forward Brandon Davies said last Tuesday. "I get up for every game, no matter who we're playing. But there's a little more rivalry to the instate games. It brings a little bit more energy to the games and the crowds are great. It's a fun atmosphere to be in."
"It’s a great rivalry between BYU and Utah," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. "It’s maybe not as deeply rooted in some of our players, but it certainly will be for the kids who grew up in Utah. We’re familiar with it and what it means. It will be a hostile environment, and as fun as it gets. If you’re not excited about the opportunity and not as geared up as you have been all season, then you better check out and find another business.
"So we don’t undervalue it at all, but we’re not going to overvalue it and make it something it’s not either. At the end of the day, it’s going to be about making plays. Trying to make it bigger than it is probably isn’t the approach we want to have.”
BYU is expected to start two former Ute players — forward Josh Sharp and guard Craig Cusick. Sharp redshirted at Utah in 2008-'09, while Cusick redshirted at Utah in 2006-'07. Last year at the Huntsman Center, Cusick scored 10 points against the Utes, including a pair of 3-pointers, in a 61-42 win.
Cusick, a walk-on, has started the last three games for BYU in place of Matt Carlino.
"We're just trying our best as a team to get solid, consistent point-guard play," Rose explained. "I think it's improved. It's better now than it was two weeks ago. Hopefully it will be better next week. Who actually plays that spot — if it's (freshman) Cory (Calvert) or Craig or Matt — the goal is to just get consistent play from that position."
Rose is hoping that his team hasn't lost confidence after falling at Iowa State.
"It's always a combination of trying to evaluate your team and correct things, but then having enough confidence in your ability to continue to believe that you're a good team and can respond to a tough situation," Rose said. "Consistency is a real issue for us."
NOTES: Four of BYU's five victories this season have come at the Marriott Center. ... BYU leads the all-time series with Utah, 128-125. The Cougars are 71-47 in Provo against the Utes. BYU is 11-3 under Rose against Utah. The Cougars' last setback to the Utes was in 2009, in overtime, at the Huntsman Center.