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BYU basketball: Emery falls ill on eve of showdown with No. 1 Gonzaga

Published February 1, 2017 10:12 pm
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It is just the news that BYU basketball fans didn't want to hear on the eve of Thursday's showdown with No. 1-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga at the Marriott Center.

Coach Dave Rose said after practice on Wednesday night that sophomore guard Nick Emery is ill and may not play against the undefeated Zags (22-0). Tipoff is at 9 p.m. MST and the game will be televised by ESPN2.

"Nick has come down with something. He's got body aches and chills and so we sent him home and hopefully it doesn't spread through the team and hopefully he is feeling better tomorrow," Rose said, when asked why Emery was not at practice.

Emery has been limited by a left knee contusion he suffered against Pacific on Jan. 21, but hasn't missed a start. He played much better in Saturday's win over Loyola Marymount than he did in last Thursday's loss at Santa Clara.

"Yeah, [his knee] is actually feeling better," Rose said. "I think he had two really good days of practice, Monday and Tuesday. I could see [Tuesday] at the end of practice that he looked to me like he was a little bit tired. He is never tired, and he looked a little bit winded and pale, and today he didn't look good at all."

Obviously, the Cougars need to be at full strength if they hope to compete with the mighty Zags, who haven't been at full strength either but could get freshman forward Killian Tillie back from a sprained ankle. Tillie will likely test his ankle in warm-ups to determine his availability, according to Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review.

BYU coach Dave Rose will go for his 300th career win, but obviously his odds of getting that are far greater on Saturday against Portland than Thursday against Gonzaga.

The coach said he likes the mood of his team this week with the Zags coming to town.

"I think that you can visually see from the guys, just the last couple of days, the excitement and the opportunity they feel," Rose said. "I think that any time you play a team in the top 25, but especially in the top 10, that it brings a real kind of national relevance to the game. I think our guys are excited about that.

"Then you actually kind of dig into what they do, how they do it, and who is doing it and you realize that it is going to be a real challenge," Rose said. "I mean, it is a really good team. Good players, but also the team itself, they play well together. They fit well together. They got a lot of strengths and depth. It is a good team."

Rose said the Cougars won't have to worry about pushing the pace as much as they usually do in WCC games. Gonzaga has the athletes, skill and depth to run with the Cougars. And the Zags won't shy from that, even in front of 19,000 screaming fans at the Marriott.

"It is going to be a battle," Rose said. "They are a much improved team, and they are always a good offensive team, and then defensively this team is probably as good as any Gonzaga team that we have played I think, just by watching them on film."

Rose said the way Gonzaga is dominating the WCC this year "is unprecedented" and impressive.

"They have some wrinkles, but Przemek [Karnowski] makes them very similar to how they have been, a big guy down low," Rose said. "Zach Collins brings a whole new dimension to them, and then obviously the three transfers from Washington and Cal and Missouri, those three guys bring some real athletic strength and speed that maybe is unique to a Gonzaga starting lineup and the front line."

The transfers are guard Nigel Williams-Goss from Washington, guard Jordan Mathews from Cal, and forward Johnathan Wiliams from Missouri.




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