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Moraga, Calif. • When senior forward Kyle Davis retired from basketball due to a lingering knee injury last month, BYU's frontline got dangerously thin.
That was alleviated a bit last week when Corbin Kaufusi returned from a standout season with the BYU football team.
But the Cougars were shorthanded down low again on Thursday.
Before the game against Saint Mary's, coach Dave Rose said junior forward Jamal Aytes did not make the trip due to illness.
It was a one-game trip for the Cougars, because the WCC's new scheduling alignment has done away with travel partners. Aytes will seemingly be available for Saturday's 7 p.m. game against Pacific in the Marriott Center.
Meanwhile, sophomore guard Elijah Bryant made is first appearance since the game against Valparaiso in Las Vegas, and scored five points in the first half.
Rose said the Elon University transfer is taking it slowly this time back after trying to make a comeback from a knee injury too soon in late November.
"He is getting closer, a lot closer" to returning to 100 percent, Rose said.
Kaufusi entered the game for the first time with the score tied at 18-18 and promptly swatted a shot, although he wasn't credited in the official stats. Kaufusi also played in both games last week against Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount.
Rose said Tuesday that the two-sport athlete has picked up where he left off last year.
"I think he feels comfortable in every aspect of this team, with these guys," Rose said. "He was with them a lot this summer. All the travel, the team meals, the practices, the shootarounds, I think that his issue is trying to get his body and his mind back in the mindset to actually compete in this game. And that's a tough thing. The game he has been playing has been a lot different. I hope he develops quickly. I would like to use him this weekend and we will see if we can."
BYU last defeated Saint Mary's in Moraga in 2014, taking a 60-57 win after overcoming a 14-point deficit. BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth tweaked a knee in the game and was not a factor down the stretch. Rather, Nate Austin and then-freshman Eric Mika made the winning plays.
"I remember we got down, but kept gutting it out and cut into that lead," Mika recalled on Tuesday. "It was like 15 at one point. But we came out with the win, and it was big-time for us.It was a big win because you want to win all your conference games, but it was just a confidence-booster to go in and win a conference game like that against a team that good in a gym that hard to win in. Coming from behind was pretty special."
Officials for the game were David Hall, Randy McCall and Tony Padilla. … The Cougars did not commit a foul until 9:26 remained in the firsts half, then picked up six in the next five minutes.