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Provo • For the third straight West Coast Conference game at the Marriott Center, BYU faced a first-year head coach on Thursday as new San Francisco coach Kyle Smith made his Provo debut.

On the other side of the court, Dave Rose coached his 400th game.

Rose was 295-104 in his 12th season at BYU, a 73.9 winning percentage.

He has coached the Cougars to 11 straight 20-plus win seasons, eight NCAA bids and three NIT bids.

He was asked on his radio show Tuesday night if he believes his team will make the NCAA Tournament.

"I believe so, yeah, I really do," Rose said. "I think that this group is coming along. We've got to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to us. We had one the other night and we let it get away [vs. No. 19 Saint Mary's], and our guys responded well to it," he continued. "The one thing about it is, you get in this position sometimes and you can't see a way through it, but with two teams in your league that are in the Top 25 with the numbers that they have, and you have so many shots at them again, and in order to get to the finals of the [conference] tourney, you would have to play through those guys maybe five more times. So, I think so."

Bryant's breakthrough

Sophomore guard Elijah Bryant came off the bench on Thursday and scored five quick points, continuing his hot play as of late. The Elon University transfer has averaged 14 points on 47.4-percent shooting from the field since returning from his knee injury a second time.

"I think that the most important thing is that he feels way better," Rose said. "I think that you see a lot of bursts of quickness and speed and athleticism from him now that you didn't see when he was kind of nursing that back. A lot of that is obviously strength in his leg, but a lot of that is confidence."

Bryant is the sixth-leading scorer on the team with an 8.6 average.

"We are talking about a guy who has played less than 100 minutes in the last two years," Rose said. "He didn't play at all last year, and he has just played a couple games with us. There is a lot of improvement that I think we will continue to see with him, and hopefully his confidence in himself and teammates having confidence with him will increase, and then him learning to play with the group."


Up next for BYU is a league game Saturday at San Diego, which was picked to finish 10th (last) in the preseason coaches poll but was 8-8 entering Thursday night's game at home against Santa Clara. … The Gonzaga-at-Portland game that was postponed last week due to the major winter storm in the Pacific Northwest will be played on Jan. 23 in Portland. … Utah Jazz guard Raul Neto attended the game with former BYU assistant coach Walter Roese; Both hail from Brazil. … Nick Emery made three 3-pointers in the first half and has now made at least one trey in 27 straight games. He's one short of Jimmer Fredette's school record of 28 straight.

Twitter: @drewjay