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Young Kwak, AP
BYU's Nate Austin,top right, and Kyle Collinsworth, left, react while helping Chase Fischer up during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Gonzaga, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Spokane, Wash. BYU won 69-68. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

PROVO — One of the key statistics that BYU coach Dave Rose says he looks at each game — a barometer for how well his team is playing the way he wants them to play — is assists.

In last Saturday’s 84-81 loss at Portland, the Cougars had only 10 assists on 27 baskets.

Rose wants to see his players count on each other more.

“I think we were totally prepared as far as what we understood the game to be,” he said of the Portland game. “I don’t think we approached it the right way as far as a team is concerned. Ten assists in the game. We do our best when we’re assisting somewhere between 20 and 23. Guys wanted to do it but I think we wanted to do it more on our own than relying on each other. There’s a fine line right there. You’ve got to be really aggressive. We played hard enough, we competed hard enough. We were just out of sync as far as our team is concerned.”

As the Cougars prepare for two more road games this weekend — Thursday at Loyola Marymount and Saturday at Pepperdine — point guard Kyle Collinsworth is mindful of involving his teammates more.

“I’m going to put a big emphasis on getting guys shots and getting everyone going,” he said. “As a leader and a point guard, make sure guys get going and I find them where they like to shoot. Each guy, I know where they like to catch it and know areas they like to catch it in. Early in the game just really be aggressive and getting them going.”

Going into the Portland game, BYU was coming off a big upset of Gonzaga on the road while the Pilots had just lost to San Diego at home.

What was the biggest difference between those two games?

“I think a lot of it had to do with our mindset, being able to go from such a big game where everyone was dialed in and it’s putting your heart on the floor and play,” said forward Corbin Kaufusi, “whereas, at Portland, we wanted to do that but we just weren’t able to deliver like we did against Gonzaga. That comes down to us preparing ourselves better mentally.”

SCORING ON IN-BOUNDS PLAYS: During last week’s win at Gonzaga, BYU scored a key basket with 2:57 remaining on an in-bounds play as Collinsworth found Chase Fischer for a layup. Fischer was fouled on the play and he converted the free throw. That sequence gave the Cougars their first lead since early in the first half.

Scoring on in-bounds plays is a major emphasis for Rose.

“We spend a lot of time on it,” Rose said. “We have a package that we use and we make a lot of adjustments during a game, depending on how people guard us. (Assistant) coach (Terry) Nashif does a great job handling that. He gets a lot of input from the other guys each week because it’s a real priority for me. It’s a real difference-maker between winning and losing. I like to take the time and try and get three or four or five baskets (on in-bounds plays) a game.”

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Rose said that play Fischer made “was drawn up in the huddle. It was pretty risky. Coach Nashif told me, ‘This will probably be a basket or a turnover.’ We got the basket and the foul. It was a big play.”

“When we can score on those, it’s big, when we can get a few easy layups,” said Collinsworth. “It’s a big emphasis, scoring on those.”

COLLINSWORTH THE CANDIDATE: Collinsworth is one of 30 student-athlete candidates for the 2016 Senior CLASS award in men's college basketball.

To be eligible for the honor, a student-athlete must be classified as a senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

EMAIL: jeffc@deseretnews.com