PROVO — BYU will try and notch its second straight win of the season tonight when the Cougars host winless Southern Utah in the Marriott Center. A BYU victory would also give new head coach Dave Rose his first win in Provo.
BYU (1-1) is fresh off a win over Washington State in Spokane while the Thunderbirds (0-4) are playing a fifth road game in a row that includes a stopover at a tournament at New Mexico. There is no television broadcast of the contest, the ninth in the series.
"SUU is a really athletic team that likes to push the ball in transition off missed shots and turnovers," Rose said.
A year ago in Provo, Cougar freshman Mike Rose set a school record with eight three-point field goals over SUU's matchup zone defense. But this year the Thunderbirds have abandoned the zone for a man look.
"They do a nice job executing on opportunity breaks. The are mainly a man-to-man team defensively, which is a lot different than Bill's teams in past years," Rose said.
"They have good size inside with a 7-footer and 6-10 guy at center and have good shooters on the wings and a smart point guard. Bill's got himself a good team, even though their record doesn't necessarily reflect that because they've had to play without a couple guys on the road due to injuries. We will need to play well."
The Cougars will likely start the same lineup that went against WSU. That includes transfer Shawn Broadus at the point with Jimmy Balderson and Brock Reichner at the wings, Trent Plaisted at center with Fernando Malaman at power forward. Derek Dawes (shoulder) and David Burgess (flu) are expected to be available to backup Plaisted.
Southern Utah returns seven lettermen and two starters from last year's 13-15 team that earned a 6-10 record in the Mid-Continent Conference.
The Cougars are coming off a wire-to-wire lead and win over WSU in which Reichner led BYU with a career high 18 points.
Rose said his staff is trying to build a team concept around its toughest player and right now that athlete is Riechner, the lone senior on the squad.
"Brock proved to this point, to be one of our toughest players. He did a great job leading out there, hitting tough shots and playing defense. Early in the season, we're trying to find combinations."
Coach Bill Evans (183-193 in his 15th season in Cedar City) has had to deal with several injuries to key players already this season. SUU lost to Ole Miss (69-62), South Carolina State (66-59) and host New Mexico (62-48) at the Jim Thorpe Classic and then fell at Arizona State (82-62) Wednesday.
Southern Utah starting center Lubor Olsovsky sprained his ankle in the season opener against Ole Miss and has missed the last three games. SUU also played at ASU without injured starter Rand Janes and lost their leading scorer Justin Allen early against the Sun Devils after taking a elbow that broke his nose. Through four games, center Fernando Bonfim has 13 blocks, easily putting him on pace to break Sean Allen's SUU record of 60 in a season, set in 1994-95.
SUU and BYU have newcomers who will have a reunion in tonight's game. Cougar point guard Rashawn Broadus played with SUU's Jusnio Abrahao at Western Nebraska and Fernando Bonfirm while BYU forward Fernando Malaman was a teammate of Dax Crum at Western Arizona.
Cougars on the air
SUU (0-4) at BYU (1-1)
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Radio: KSL 1160AM; 102.7 FM