Provo • There is a pretty good chance that the BYU Cougars will be without leading scorer Noah Hartsock when they play the game that could ultimately determine whether they make the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive time.
BYU coach Dave Rose said after practice Tuesday that Hartsock's left knee is still sore and that the senior is "day-to-day" as the Cougars prepared for Thursday's showdown at Gonzaga, which is tied with BYU for second place in the West Coast Conference standings.
"Noah had an MRI [Monday]," Rose said. "He's got some real soreness in that knee, but there is no structural damage, so we will just go from there. … Not a lot of swelling in there, but we dodged a bullet as far as the MRI is concerned, so hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible."
Hartsock suffered the knee strain in the second half of Saturday's 82-67 win at Santa Clara, but returned to action that same half and finished with 21 points. He did not practice Tuesday, and is considered a "game-time decision" for the 9 p.m. MST tipoff against the Zags.
Rose said because Hartsock isn't considered "a real high-flyer," he might be able to play on a bad ankle or knee easier than other players.
" I mean, he will play if he can, I do know that," Rose said. "He's a tough guy. And he can be really effective, because … he's more of a skilled [player]. He shot the ball out here today and moved around, but he didn't move around real well."
While the news about Hartsock's injury was less than positive for BYU, it was better regarding point guard Matt Carlino's situation. The freshman tweaked his knee in Thursday's 85-84 win at San Francisco and wore a brace on it against Santa Clara, scoring just two points in limited playing time.
"Matt is good. Matt had an MRI, and the structure of his knee is good. He is in a little bit of pain, but not nearly as sore as Noah. And he made it through the whole practice today, so that's a good sign," Rose said.
The coach said that injured junior Stephen Rogers, who also has a bad knee, practiced a little bit on Tuesday and "there's a possibility that we might have [him] back" for the Gonzaga game.
Told that Hartsock claims he once blocked NBA star Blake Griffin's shot in high school, Rose joked, "Yeah, I dunked on [former Houston teammate] Hakeem Olajuwon once, too, in practice." … In his seventh year, Rose is now 41-6 in the month of February, including a 5-0 mark this season. … The Cougars nominated Carlino for WCC Player of the Week honors after he scored 30 points against USF, but the honor went to Loyola Marymount's Anthony Ireland.
BYU at Gonzaga
Thursday, 9 p.m.
TV • ESPN2