PROVO — The BYU men's basketball team (8-5) continues on its abbreviated Mountain West Conference Reunion Tour Saturday when traveling to take on San Diego State (6-4) at Viejas Arena. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. PST with the game televised live on the CBS Sports Network.
The game is on the heels of a tough loss to another former MWC foe, UNLV. The Cougars' late comeback fell short with the Rebels' taking a dramatic 92-90 overtime win. The loss ended BYU's three-game winning streak put forth after taking a humiliating 113-103 loss to Weber State Dec. 1.
The intent is for BYU coach Dave Rose and his players is turn around what ailed the team in the tough loss to UNLV, which may involve different rotations put forth at certain junctures.
"We had interesting lineups on the floor that really couldn't work well together cohesively," Rose said of a particular stretch to end the first half during the UNLV loss that put his team in a tough predicament to field a comeback. "So we're looking at that and they're things we can work to improve on and make sure we don't have those lulls that are very tough to overcome on the road."
Rose is very familiar with the tough environs of Viejas Arena, having faced hostile crowds there throughout BYU's time in the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs haven't shown as well as some of the very good teams the Cougars encountered while playing in the MWC, although Rose expects a serious challenge.
"They're similar to the teams we remember playing way back when, although (my current) players were all 10, 11 and 12 years old and probably don't know much of anything of playing San Diego State back when we did," Rose said. "They're long and athletic and they're a good shooting team. They're also a great rebounding team, which can present a good challenge."
Also challenging is the particular time of the year, which has BYU players juggling several other things other than basketball.
"It's been a tough week. A busy week with guys involved with finals, but we've had good practices," Rose said. "The guys are finishing with all the school work soon and I know they're all excited to get back out there and show better in what is now a tough stretch before we begin confernece play."
EMERY EMERGING: It's been four games now since Nick Emery's return to play after sitting out the first nine games of the year due to NCAA-mandated penalties. What he's shown has been positive — both on and off the court, according to Rose, — speaking of what he's seen from the Lone Peak product.2 comments on this story
"I think he's doing great," Rose said. "He's readjusting to his routine and everything else fans don't see just great. There's far more to evaluate than just the 40 minutes fans see every game, so from that angle, with everything involved he's just doing great. I'm real happy for what he's overcome and the progress he continues to make."
Emery has averaged 19 minutes and scored 6.3 points off the bench in four games this season. He's also contributed in facets beyond the stat sheet, according to Rose.
"He's adjusting to fitting in with these guys and figuring out how best he can contribute to this team," Rose said. "He's given us a lift in every game he's played. He's not scoring as much as he had been, but he's giving us good energy and helping us out in a lot of different ways."