Provo • In a way, the BYU men's basketball team was burned by a pair of buzzer-beaters last week, although it went 1-1 to stay near the top of the West Coast Conference standings.
Not only did the Cougars (15-5, 4-1 WCC ) lose at home to Saint Mary's on a last-second shot by Matthew Dellavedova on Wednesday, they also watched their next opponent lose in a similar, excruciating manner Saturday.
The No. 8 Gonzaga Bulldogs, who will play host to the Cougars on Thursday night at The Kennel (9 p.m. MST, ESPN2), lost 64-63 to No. 13 Butler when Roosevelt Jones stole David Stockton's inbound pass and made a buzzer-beating floater.
"I just saw the end of it. Unbelievable. That's why we play them," BYU coach Dave Rose said after the Cougars walloped San Diego 74-57 on Saturday night at the Marriott Center when he was asked in the postgame interview room if he watched the Zags (17-2, 4-0 WCC) lose after having the lead and the ball with 3.5 seconds left.
"They are going to be probably a little bit upset," Rose continued. "So we are going to have to be ready for it. … I think that is their second loss of the season. It will sting extra hard. When you don't lose much, it really hurts. That's just how the business is."
Upset or not, Gonzaga already figured to be BYU's most difficult game of the regular season. The Cougars will be heavy underdogs and are still looking for a headline-grabbing victory to kick-start their hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament.
"Well, it is a really talented team. [Gonzaga coach] Mark [Few] and I have become actually pretty good friends," Rose said. "He's got himself some people are saying maybe the best group he's ever had. It is a deep group. They can score inside. They are really talented on the perimeter. It is going to be a real challenge."
If the Zags bounce back from their devastating loss as well as the Cougars did, they should be OK. BYU overcame another poor outside shooting performance by dominating inside. The Cougars outrebounded the Toreros 44-29 and scored 32 points in the paint to USD's 18.
Senior forward Brandon Davies also returned to form, after struggling with foul problems against Saint Mary's and getting zero rebounds for the first time in his career when playing more than a handful of minutes. Davies was 7-for-12 from the field for 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds while committing just two turnovers.
"He wants to be the leader of this team," Rose said. "And the nights when things don't go his way, I really believe he's a guy that takes that to heart and then responds to it. There are a couple guys on this team who are carrying a pretty huge load, because we need them to play well for us to be good. So I was really pleased with how he responded."
The Gonzaga game begins a three-game road stretch for the Cougars, who will stay in the Northwest and play at Portland on Saturday before heading to Los Angeles on Jan. 31 for a game at Pepperdine.
BYU at Gonzaga
P Thursday, 9 p.m. MST,
TV • ESPN2