The BYU basketball team, with three losses in the WAC and the league season not even at the midway point, may seem out of the regular season title chase, but coach Roger Reid isn't about to deliver a concession speech just yet.
Saturday's home loss to Colorado State makes a conference championship, "an uphill battle," Reid admits, "but I've seen teams with five losses win this league before. A lot of things can happen before the season is over."The loss to CSU, which broke a 24-game home winning streak, knocked the Cougars into a tie for fifth at 4-3 - two games behind co-leaders Utah and Fresno State.
It won't get any easier for the Cougars in the near future, either. BYU faces 15-2 New Mexico (5-2 WAC) the next two Thursdays - first in Albuquerque and then in Provo - with games against traditional WAC power UTEP on each of the next two Saturdays.
"When you lose at home like we did, it makes it a lot more difficult," Reid said. "But it just means we've got to pick up some wins in places that others don't."
Like, say, The Pit, where New Mexico is 10-0 so far this year.
COUGAR KILLERS: Colorado State's Joe Vogel just loves playing BYU. The 6-11 senior center had 15 points and 10 rebounds against BYU in the Rams' two-point victory Saturday, marking the fifth double-double game in scoring and rebounding in his career.
Three of those double-doubles have been at the Cougars' expense. Last year in Provo, Vogel scored 22 points and pulled down 11 boards. In the WAC Tournament quarterfinals he had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
In his last three games against BYU, Vogel is averaging 17.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. By comparison, he's averaging only 8.5 points and 6.6 boards this year.
Meanwhile, Bryan Christiansen, the Castle Dale native that scored Colorado State's final eight points - including the game winning 3-pointer - admitted after the game he grew up as a Cougar fan. His uncle (by marriage) is Reed Fehlberg, a former star wrestler at BYU and the brother of Cougar athletic director Rondo Fehlberg.
STATS & STUFF: Kenneth Roberts, the Cougars' undersized all-WAC center, has been his usual solid self all season, but he's been even better in league games. Roberts has scored 21 or more points in six of BYU's seven WAC contests and is averaging 22.4 points in conference play - which is second in the league to Hawaii's Anthony Harris (24.3 ppg). Junior guard Bryon Ruffner continues to lead BYU in scoring in all games this year with a 19.1 ppg average . . . For those fans who still claim Roger Reid's teams play a "boring" brand of basketball, consider: the Cougars are leading the WAC in scoring offense with an 82.1 points per game average and are giving up the second most points (74.9 ppg).