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Boulder, Colo. • Coach Dave Rose's BYU basketball team already has a "bad loss" on its NCAA Tournament résumé, that baffling 66-65 setback at Long Beach State on Nov. 16 in which the Cougars missed 13 free throws and committed 24 turnovers.
Their second chance for a quality win after they stumbled badly in an 83-75 loss at Utah 10 days ago comes on Saturday against Colorado (7-1) of the Pac-12 at the Coors Event Center. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. MST in the first meeting between the Cougars and Buffaloes since 1955.
"We look forward to a big challenge on Saturday," Rose said Wednesday night after the Cougars rolled past Utah State 80-68 at the Marriott Center.
It was 6-2 BYU's best overall performance of the season, as the Cougars took a 39-24 halftime lead and led by as many as 22 points in the second half before the Aggies scored the game's final 10 points in garbage time.
Rose said they will need the same kind of effort, perhaps even a better one, to knock off a Colorado team that has won seven straight since dropping its opener to No. 4 Iowa State 68-62 in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Buffs have one of the best players in the country in 6-foot-10 forward Josh Scott, who is averaging 18.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.
"What stands out [about Colorado] is it is a really long, athletic, quick team," Rose said. "It is a team that really challenges you on the defensive end. They will just make things really hard on us. So we will have to be good as far as how we execute, and then rebounding the ball will be a huge key in this game, not turning it over where they get easy baskets in transition, and then rebounding that thing. I am looking forward to that game. Hopefully our guys will respond and we will play well."
The Cougars will likely play again without Jamal Aytes (ankle injury), so the onus will be on posts Corbin Kaufusi, Kyle Davis and Nate Austin to stay out of foul trouble while defending Scott and his teammates. Kaufusi picked up two quick fouls against the Aggies and played just 18 minutes.
Davis picked up the slack, however, posting 14 points and 14 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Austin played 20 minutes and grabbed three rebounds, but did not score.
Colorado opponents have shot 39.6 percent from 3-point range, so the Cougars will obviously try to exploit that weakness. BYU is shooting only 35.1 percent from long range, but has improved in that area the last few games, especially senior guard Chase Fischer. The Wake Forest transfer has made 19 3-pointers in his last five games after making just three in his first three.
"I think that everybody's senior year brings with it all kinds of different circumstances and situations," Rose said of Fischer's recent play. "I think he is really settled in to how he can help our team. I think he is playing in the moment, for this day. I just see him a lot more determined, a lot more focused, and I think he understands how important he is to our team, and has kind of responded to that."
Of course, Colorado will also have to deal with BYU senior point guard Kyle Collinsworth, who has seven career triple-doubles and is averaging 14.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game.
CU coach Tad Boyle said Collinsworth "is as good of a player as there is in college basketball in terms of doing everything. He scores, he rebounds, he makes plays for others."
BYU at Colorado
P At Coors Event Center, Boulder, Colo.
Tipoff • Saturday, 6 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network
Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and Sirius XM 143
Records • BYU 6-2, Colorado 7-1
Series record • Colorado leads 16-6
Last meeting • BYU 84, Colorado 53 (Dec. 17, 1955)
About the Cougars • They are playing the Buffaloes for the first time in 60 years after playing them 22 times before 1956. … G Kyle Collinsworth has registered in double figures in assists in the last two games and three of the last four. He had 11 in Wednesday's 80-68 win over Utah State. … G Chase Fischer has averaged 23.7 points in the last three games.
About the Buffaloes • Coach Tad Boyle is 108-68 in his sixth season at Colorado. … They defeated Colorado State 88-77 on Sunday for their seventh-straight win after dropping their season-opener 68-62 to Iowa State. … They are averaging 83.9 points per game and allowing 70.9 ppg. … Josh Scott, a 6-foot-10 forward, averages 18.3 ppg.