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Provo • As the BYU men's basketball team reaches the halfway point of the 2015-16 West Coast Conference season, Paul Simon's 1977 hit "Slip Slidin' Away" seems like an appropriate way to describe the Cougars' chances for a third straight NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
That, or the movie "Groundhog Day," because the Cougars (14-7, 5-3 WCC) again find themselves needing another long winning streak in the last week of January for a postseason bid. Yeah, you've heard that before.
After Thursday's game at the Marriott Center against Loyola Marymount (9 p.m., ESPNU), the Cougars will have played half of their league schedule. Barring a 10-0 or 9-1 run in their final 10 league games, they will have to win the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas if they hope to get to the Big Dance for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons.
The good news is seven of the last 10 games are at home, where BYU is undefeated (8-0) this season. And winning the conference tournament may not be as daunting a task in March, because Gonzaga is not head-and-shoulders better than everyone else this year, as in the past.
Actually, Saint Mary's (17-2) might be the tournament favorite at this juncture, but the Gaels (8-1 in league play) have played only four games away from McKeon Pavilion, so getting a good gauge on them is difficult.
How bleak is BYU's postseason picture?
The Cougars aren't even one of 16 teams "on the bubble" in ESPN's Bracketology projections by Joe Lunardi. BYU is 2-3 against RPI top-100 teams this season, and 0-3 against top 50 clubs (Utah, Colorado, SMC). It has already lost four games to teams with RPIs above 100 (Portland, Pepperdine, Long Beach State, Harvard).
Monday, BYU's Sagarin rating was 53, its Pomeroy rating was 64 and its RPI according to ESPN was 75.
"We need to get home and get regrouped, and get rolling," coach Dave Rose said after the 71-65 loss to Pepperdine.
Another snub for K.C.
Another midseason watch list for a national player of the year award came out on Monday, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Oscar Robertson Trophy, and BYU's Kyle Collinsworth was nowhere to be found among the finalists. Nor were the names of two other local stars, Utah's Jakob Poeltl and Weber State's Joel Bolomboy.
The USBWA's list featured 20 players, including Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer.
Last week, the John R. Wooden Award unveiled its Midseason Top 25 list, which included Poeltl, Wiltjer and Gonzaga's Domantas Sabonis, but not Collinsworth, who has four triple-doubles this season and 10 in his BYU career, an NCAA record.
A young BYU fan at Thursday's BYU-LMU game held up a sign that read "Heljaas, Seljaas!" in honor of the 3-point shooting ability of Cougars freshman Zac Seljaas. … Another sign read, "Fear the Beard-less," in a nod to BYU's honor code. … The 10 assists BYU posted against Pepperdine tied for a season-low. The Cougars also had just 10 assists in losses at Utah, Colorado and Portland.
Loyola Marymount at BYU
P Thursday, 9 p.m.
TV • ESPNU