PROVO — More than anything, BYU forward Yoeli Childs wants everyone to know that he’s fine physically. He's been asked about his health too many times this week.
Twice during the Cougars’ 77-65 victory over Utah last Saturday, Childs had to be helped off the court due to leg cramps. It looked much worse than that at the time, however.
He’ll be back on the floor when BYU faces Idaho State Thursday (7 p.m., MST, BYUtv) at the Marriott Center.
“It’s a one-time thing. I don’t know what happened. It hurt,” Childs said. “But it was a short-term thing. I’ll be ready to go (Thursday).”
When he watched replays of the Utah game, Childs didn’t like what he saw out of himself while dealing with the cramps.
“It was embarrassing, rolling around on the ground like a little girl in front of 20,000 people,” he said. “You can’t really control it but it’s definitely a game you want to be playing in.”
“It was really strange. He’s never had that happen to him before,” coach Dave Rose said of Childs’ injury. “He said it was so painful that it made it difficult. He gave it a go. He wanted to get back (into the game). As a coach, when you see those kinds of things, you just know you have yourself a pretty special guy.”
Idaho State (4-5) at BYU (9-2)
Thursday, 7 p.m. MST Marriott Center
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Now, Rose is guarding against a letdown by his team, considering his players are coming off a big win in the rivalry game and dealing with final exams this week.
“As coaches, that’s kind of what we do. We’re concerned. You look around college basketball and you see how this works. No one is immune from it. It happens,” Rose said. “What you hope is that your guys are good enough with each another that they can hold each other accountable enough to the fact that there’s a certain way you have to play and execute to be successful. Hopefully, you can find a way to do that every night, no matter who you’re playing. This will be a challenge. This is finals week at BYU and it’s difficult.”
Forward Luke Worthington anticipates his team being ready to play this week.
“There’s a lot of things going on, not just the Utah game but finals. I think we’ve done a good job so far in practice of clearing our mind when we get on the court,” he said. “It’s just a matter of focusing when you need to focus. When we play the game I have no doubt we’ll be ready to go because we’ve showed in practice that even through the mental stress of finals or an emotional win we can bounce back really quick. Not too worried about it.”
The Cougars (9-2) have won six consecutive games.
“We’re just trying to focus on what we do,” said guard Elijah Bryant, who is coming off a season-high 29-point performance against the Utes. “We’re not looking ahead, we’re not looking behind us. It’s trusting what we do and getting back to practice and getting ready to grind.”
While injured big men Ryan Andrus and Braiden Shaw participated in Wednesday’s practice, they won’t be cleared to play this week. Dalton Nixon (foot) remains sidelined, too.
Idaho State (4-5) lost its first five games of the season, including a game at undefeated Arizona State and at home to Utah Valley University, before winning four in a row against Bethesda, Cal-State Northridge, Northwest Nazarene and Youngstown State.
The Bengals’ leading scorer is UVU transfer Jared Stutzman, a sophomore swingman who averages 13.7 points per game.
“Idaho State can really shoot the ball,” Rose said. “They have three or four guys on the perimeter that in the last four games have averaged 10 (3-pointers) a game and scoring 80 points.”
Rose said he and his coaching staff are familiar with a couple of Idaho State’s players because they have local ties, including guard Geno Luzcando, a Wasatch Academy product.
“Geno is their leader,” Rose said. “They have a big 7-footer in the middle They’ll be a big challenge defensively.”