College basketball • BYU hopes to overcome its slow starts.
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Provo • So, this BYU basketball team has some issues.
Coach Dave Rose said so himself, after the Cougars overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half and squeaked past Pepperdine 63-61 at Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday night.
The latest problem to show its ugly head in one of the most beautiful locales in the country for basketball: uninspired starts. The Cougars looked like they would rather have been strolling along the nearby beaches of Malibu instead of guarding the Waves in the first half, and found themselves in a 31-20 hole.
The 20 points are a season-low for a half this season for BYU.
"We knew this was going to be a real grind," Rose said after the game. "… It felt good to get a win playing a little bit out of our element, and our guys did well adjusting. I am really proud of the guys finding a way to win this game. We have a few issues to address, definitely, but we will take this win and go home and get ready for Santa Clara."
The West Coast Conference's third-place Cougars (17-6, 7-2 WCC) play host to the league's fourth-place Broncos (17-6, 5-3) on Saturday night at the Marriott Center (7 p.m., BYUtv) and are the last team to have defeated red-hot Santa Clara. The Broncos have won five straight since falling 82-64 to BYU at the Leavey Center three weeks ago and are coming off a 70-47 pummeling of Portland on Thursday when the Cougars were struggling with sixth-place Pepperdine.
The Cougars haven't played at home since Jan. 19.
"It has been awhile. We are really excited to get back home in front of our crowd. We got a big game Saturday. Santa Clara is really good," said BYU's Tyler Haws after scoring 21 points in the win over Pepperdine, 15 in the second half. "We are going to enjoy this one tonight, and then get ready [Friday] for that one Saturday."
While the Cougars' issues, or weaknesses, were on full display Thursday, Rose chose to focus on the positives after the win.
Notwithstanding that last foul that gave Pepperdine three free throws with under two seconds to play, backup guard Anson Winder came up big for the Cougars, Rose said.
"In that situation, the foul is the one thing that gave them a chance," Rose said. "So we will look at it. But Anson played so hard, and gave us such a huge lift. Those are things that we will just try to correct."
The coach was happy with how four sophomores Haws, Winder, Nate Austin and Matt Carlino played the majority of the minutes in the second half and spurred the comeback, along with senior Brandon Davies.
"I think the guys going in and winning the game like that, it should give them a lot of confidence. I think there were young guys making plays out there," Rose said.
Santa Clara at BYU
O At the Marriott Center (Provo)
Tipoff • Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • BYUtv. Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Records • BYU 17-6, 7-2 WCC; Santa Clara 17-6, 5-3 WCC
Series history • BYU leads 18-5
Last meeting • BYU 82, SCU 64 (Jan. 12, 2013)
About the Broncos • They have won five straight games since losing by 18 to BYU at home three weeks ago.
About the Cougars • After scoring 21 points in Thursday's 63-61 win over Pepperdine, Tyler Haws is 10th nationally in scoring with a 20.5 average and senior Brandon Davies is 48th in scoring with a 18.0 average.