BYU basketball: Even on road, Cougars often feel at home

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Portland, Ore. • Technically, it was a road game for the BYU Cougars on Saturday night as they took on Portland in a West Coast Conference game at 4,852-seat Chiles Center.

In reality, the Pilots played on their home court, but the crowd was mixed in their allegiance, with probably more than half of the onlookers cheering for BYU.

"That's the cool thing about being in this league," BYU guard Brock Zylstra said last week. "It seems like no matter where we are, there are a lot of BYU fans there cheering us on. It's always fun to get a few cheers when you are introduced."

That's no surprise. With a worldwide following due to an affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Cougars enjoy strong fan support everywhere they play.

Even at Virginia Tech two weeks ago, thousands of miles away from Provo, a couple hundred fans were decked out in navy blue, pulling for BYU.

That's true even though some venues in the WCC are doubling ticket prices when the Cougars are in town. For instance, general admission tickets for Portland games are usually $10, but they were raised to $20 on Saturday night.

At San Diego on Jan. 16, tickets that normally sold for $14-16 were selling for $28 and $30. Prices also go up whenever Gonzaga and Saint Mary's visit for "premier" games, a ticket agent said at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Jason Glenn, a BYU fan, reported Saturday on Twitter that he had to pay $42 for a ticket to the upcoming BYU-San Francisco game in the Bay Area.

When they were in the Mountain West Conference, the Cougars drew a lot of their fans at Utah, San Diego State, UNLV, Air Force, TCU and Colorado State — especially last year on the Jimmer Fredette Tour — but not so many at New Mexico and Wyoming.

They've now played at Saint Mary's, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, San Diego and Portland in the WCC and have drawn plenty of BYU fans at every venue.

That won't happen at Gonzaga on Feb. 23, however. The Zags routinely sell out the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center without help from fans of the visiting team.

Twitter: @drewjay