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If Saturday's 77-74 loss to San Diego proved anything, it is that BYU sorely misses 6-foot-11 forward Nate Austin, who has been sidelined since Dec. 10 with a hamstring injury. The Cougars did get some offensive contributions from Luke Worthington and Corbin Kaufusi, but were torched inside repeatedly by USD big men who hadn't done much in previous games. Austin practiced last week and was planning to return to action until he tweaked the hamstring again in the final minutes of Wednesday's drills. BYU coach Dave Rose said Monday in his weekly webcast interview with KSL radio that there is a strong possibility that Austin won't return at all this season.
In his radio show last week, Rose said he has talked to Austin about shutting it down and applying for a medical hardship waiver to get his senior year back.
For now, they are taking a wait-and-see approach as the Cougars embark on the second half of the West Coast Conference season on Thursday at home against San Francisco.
The Cougars have gone small most of the season, playing a four-guard lineup in an effort to get the best players on the floor. The last three games, they've gone even smaller at times, with 6-foot-6 freshman forward Dalton Nixon seeing increased minutes.
Nixon played 21 minutes against Pacific, 31 minutes against Saint Mary's and 13 minutes against San Diego before fouling out with 0.4 seconds left.
He went 4-for-4 against the Toreros for eight points, and also had three rebounds and a steal.
"I think just his ability to understand our system and then be able to finish plays around the rim," has earned Nixon playing time, Rose said. "He's a good free throw shooter. Especially on the offensive end, he really understands what we want to do, and how we want to do it."
Haws a candidate for Senior CLASS Award
Despite being the third-leading scorer in the country with a 22.4 average, Tyler Haws did not make the 17-member midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, which was released Friday. Haws is on the 25-member Wooden Award Watch List.
Monday, Haws was selected as one of 30 candidates for the 2014-15 Senior CLASS Award in college basketball. To be eligible, student-athletes have to be seniors and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
BYU's Jimmer Fredette was the 2011 Senior CLASS Award winner.
San Francisco at BYU
Thursday, 9 p.m.