Provo • BYU's basketball team was torched to the tune of 28 points on Saturday by Baylor's Perry Jones III, but coach Dave Rose says the Bears' 6-foot-11 big man might not even be the best player to visit the Marriott Center this season.
That title might belong to UC Santa Barbara's Orlando Johnson, Rose said Tuesday night after the Cougars handled Buffalo 93-78 to improve to 8-3.
The 6-foot-5 senior guard, who dumped 36 points on UNLV in a double-overtime loss a few weeks ago, brings his 5-4 Gauchos to Provo on Thursday night to face the Cougars (7 p.m., BYUtv). UCSB has lost four of its last five games after opening the season with four wins, but is a dangerous foe that will challenge the Cougars because it is talented and well-coached, Rose said.
"I have talked to a couple coaches about their game, and their team," Rose said. "It is a very good offensive team, very experienced. I have seen Orlando Johnson play and he's a terrific player, every bit as good as any player who will play in the Marriott Center this year. He's a terrific player."
While UCSB lost to Cal 70-50 on Monday night, the Cougars face an even quicker turnaround.
"It is something to get us in the flow so when conference [play] comes around we are used to having only one day to prepare for a team, and getting in a flow," said BYU's Brock Zylstra, who scored a career-high 26 points against Buffalo.
Zylstra is more familiar with the Gauchos than most BYU players because he grew up in Southern California and because his uncle, Doug Zylstra, is a big UCSB fan.
"It would be good to get a win so he can't hang it over my head," Brock Zylstra said. "Yeah, we are looking forward to Santa Barbara on Thursday."
Along with the high-scoring Johnson, UCSB features point guard Nate Garth, a transfer from New Mexico who faced the Cougars a couple of times as a Lobo.
"It is a very good team, a team that we will have to be ready for," Rose said. "I really believe that they will bring that same intensity and same execution in here. [UCSB coach] Rob Williams has won more games than any coach at Santa Barbara, and there have been some good ones there. He's a great coach with a great team."
UC Santa Barbara at BYU
P At the Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff • Thursday, 7 p.m.
TV • BYUtv
Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Records • BYU 8-3, UCSB 5-4
Series history • BYU leads, 4-1
Last meeting • BYU, 69-46 (Dec. 21, 2002)
About the Cougars • Matt Carlino almost became the first Cougar since Michael Smith in 1988 to post a triple-double, falling just three rebounds short against Buffalo.
About the Gauchos • With nine points in a 70-50 loss at Cal on Monday, Orlando Johnson became the eighth player in school history to surpass the 1,400-point scoring mark.