Hopefully this will be a team that will respond with different individual stars every night. —Dave Rose
Days after an easy 91-61 season-opening win at home against Mississippi Valley State, BYU is taking its show on the road.
The Cougars travel to New Jersey to visit Princeton of the Ivy League Wednesday (5 p.m. MT, NBC Sports Philadelphia/NBC Sports California).
Princeton (0-1) is coming off an 85-75 loss at Butler last week. Guard Amir Bell led the way for the Tigers with 22 points while guard Myles Stephens added 21.
With junior guard Nick Emery having withdrawn from school last Friday amid an NCAA investigation looking into allegations that he accepted improper benefits from a booster, BYU is looking to fill the void that Emery leaves behind in terms of experience, leadership and playmaking ability.
“The biggest effect will be our depth. He’s played a lot of minutes for us. He’s done a lot of good things in the two years that he’s played,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “When you put your team together, you plan on those experienced guys to be a pillar for you. When you take one away, you’re going to have to make up for it. We’re not going to replace him. When you think about the years that we’ve lost players — Kyle Collinsworth, Tyler Haws, Jimmer Fredette, Keena Young, Lee Cummard — you’re trying to figure out how to put your team together when the experience leaves. I think that’s the same situation we’re in here. I thought we did a good job of recruiting to this possibility. We’ll see how we progress.”
BYU (1-0) at Princeton (0-1)
Wednesday, 5 p.m. MST Jadwin Gymnasium
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia/California
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
In the Cougars’ opener, guard Elijah Bryant knocked down 10 of 11 shots from the floor, including six 3-pointers to finish with 27 points to go along with six rebounds.
Rose liked the way his players responded to the loss of Emery in the first game.
“Hopefully this will be a team that will respond with different individual stars every night,” Rose said.
Bryant, a team captain, said he’s concerned about Emery as a person but, at the same time, his team has a lot of work to do.
“The biggest thing is for Nick to find himself. It’s bigger than basketball. We always have his back,” Bryant said. “As a team, it’s time to move on and the next guy to step up. As a captain, we support him in his decision, but, as a team, we’re moving forward and everyone needs to step up.”
While Wednesday marks BYU’s first official road game of the season, the Cougars can draw upon experience playing away from the Marriott Center.
BYU beat New Mexico in a charity exhibition game 79-73 on Oct. 27 at The Pit in Albuquerque.
“Any time you take your team on the road for the first time, it’s always kind of interesting,” Rose said after that win. “This had a whole different feel to it. It’s an exhibition game but it didn’t feel much like an exhibition game in the second half. It felt like a mid-December game, a mid-January game. The Pit wasn’t full but it was loud.”
After playing Princeton, BYU returns home on Saturday to take on UT Arlington, which ended the Cougars' season at the Marriott Center last year in the NIT.
“Now, we have a huge challenge here,” Rose said after the win over Mississippi Valley State. “It’s a tough week, flying across the country to play a Wednesday game and then getting back and playing Saturday against a really good veteran team that beat us up (at the Marriott Center) last year.”
TIP-INS: BYU has a 5-0 record all-time against Princeton. The Cougars defeated the Tigers in last year’s season-opener in Provo, 82-73. The last time BYU played at Princeton was in 1981, when the Cougars escaped with a 39-38 victory.