PROVO — Positives come far and in between for a team that loses by 30 points at home to anyone, although at least one positive thing happened during BYU's 93-63 drubbing at the hands of No. 4 Gonzaga on Thursday.
The game marked the return of Jahshire Hardnett following an almost four-week absence after transfer rumors swirled around the junior guard. The reason for Hardnett's absence was a hand injury, which has kept him out since the Cougars took an 88-66 loss to Saint Mary's on Jan. 5.
The Chipola College transfer was generally viewed as the Cougars' third-best option, behind Yoeli Childs and TJ Haws, making his absence notable.
"It was great to have him back," Haws said. "He's capable of giving us a great spark off the bench right now and he can help us a lot ... Hopefully he can get back in rhythm to where he was."
Hardnett first entered Thursday's game at the 11:48 mark of the first half and responded about two minutes later with a made 3-pointer that cut Gonzaga's lead to 23-18. He finished with five points over eight minutes played while grabbing a couple of rebounds.
As for players and BYU coach Dave Rose, they welcomed back the addition while understanding his return comes with some hurdles.
"He was a little winded, so he didn't get a lot of minutes, but I thought that he played well," Rose said. "He was one of those guys who had some of his shots just come off instead of going in, but his ability to get in there, drive, and kind of make a play is something we can use."
GONZAGA LOADED: The Bulldogs have presented a lot of top teams nationally in recent history, with this year's version providing arguably one of the best, if not the best, BYU has faced. Perhaps the most impressive Gonzaga performer on Thursday was 6-foot-8 forward Brandon Clarke, who scored a game-high 23 points on 10-13 shooting from the field while grabbing nine rebounds.
"You have them in spots you think you want them in, and then they escape and score," Rose said of Clarke and Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura, specifically.
But Gonzaga provided far more than just the play of Clarke and Hachimura.
"It just seems that their depth is tremendous and it's what allows them to be so consistent," Rose said. "If a guy has a bad game or gets sick then there's another guy."