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Provo • BYU guard Brock Zylstra said Thursday that the Cougars, like every college basketball team in America, would much rather play games than practice.
He's about to get his wish.
Beginning on Saturday night when they play host to slumping Santa Clara in the Marriott Center (6 p.m., ESPNU), the Cougars will play four games in eight days, their busiest stretch of the season. The Cougars (14-4, 3-1 in the West Coast Conference) travel to San Diego on Monday, return home for a game Thursday against Loyola Marymount, then finish the grueling stretch Jan. 21 at Pepperdine.
"It will be good to get back into it," said Zylstra, who made all eight shots he took when BYU last played, last Saturday against San Francisco. "Coaches like to have more practice days, and the players like to have more game days."
Santa Clara comes into the Marriott Center for its first WCC matchup with BYU having lost 75-62 at home to San Diego on Thursday and still looking for its first league win.
The Broncos (8-8, 0-3 WCC) defeated New Mexico and Villanova in November and were expected to be a threat in the league, but have lost five of their past six and don't figure to give the Cougars much trouble.
Still, coach Dave Rose said coach Kerry Keating's team is dangerous because it leads the WCC in 3-pointers, averaging 8.8 per game, and features the league's leading scorer, Kevin Foster (17.3 ppg.).
A senior, Foster is "a pretty special guy," Rose said. "… You can do a great job on him, you can be right where you want, get him to take the shot you want him to take, and he is really capable of making it."
Santa Clara at BYU
P At Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff • 6 p.m.
TV • ESPNU
Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Records • BYU 14-4, 3-1; Santa Clara 8-8, 0-3
Series history • BYU leads 15-5
Last meeting • BYU, 87-74 (Dec. 31, 2004)
About the Cougars • Noah Hartsock leads them in scoring with a 17.1 average and is just 73 points away from 1,000 career points. Hartsock is No. 4 on the school's blocked-shots list with 154, 12 behind Russell Larson. … The Cougars are averaging 19.1 assists per game, tops in the country. … They are 9-2 against Santa Clara in Provo.
About the Broncos • They fell 75-62 to San Diego on Thursday night in the Leavey Center while shooting 27.6 percent from the field and 24 percent from 3-point range. … Kevin Foster leads them and the WCC in scoring with a 17.3 average, but had just 13 against the Toreros after not starting for the first time all season.