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BYU basketball: Cougars set for season-opener

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PROVO — The BYU men's basketball team wasn't really tested in either of its exhibition contests. The Cougars routed both Concordia University and Georgetown College.

Judging by last year's meeting with Long Beach State, the Cougars might not get much of a challenge Friday night when they open the season by hosting the 49ers in a rematch. Last year BYU clobbered the 49ers 74-34 at Long Beach State.

"One thing about opening games is you spend a lot more time worrying about yourself, and I think that will be what we do this year," Cougar coach Dave Rose said. "Just concentrate on us, our game plan and how we want to play."

In both exhibition wins the Cougars played outstanding defense and accomplished most of their scoring in transition. What they haven't spent much time on is working on a half-court offense. Also, Rose is hoping his team will do a better job of attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line.

"The most important thing is we started sharing the ball, and playing together," Rose said.

With games now counting, Rose is closer to formalizing a starting five and a main rotation. Right now it looks like team captains Lee Cummard and Jonathan Tavernari will start at the forward positions and carry most of BYU's scoring load. Junior Chris Miles appears to be earning most of the minutes at center and junior Lamont Morgan Jr. has been steady at point guard. What's not clear is who will start between sophomore guards Jackson Emery and Jimmer Fredette and who will be the first off the bench. Emery missed the first exhibition game with the flu and Fredette missed the Georgetown game with an ankle sprain. Whether Fredette will play Friday will be a game-time decision.

"Our big concern is trying to develop our main team that will play the majority of the minutes, and then players who can give us added depth," Rose said. "Sometimes you don't start your best five players. You keep players on the bench who will be able to give a lift ... to me it's not that important who starts the game ... but it's really important in who we have confidence in to finish games."

The 49ers, from the Big West Conference, are coming off a disappointing 6-25 season. Coach Dan Monson, previously at Gonzaga and Minnesota, is beginning his second season at Long Beach State. Picked to finish eighth in the conference by Big West coaches, the 49ers return all-conference senior guard Donovan Morris, who averaged 21 points and five rebounds a year ago. Senior center Brian Freeman and senior guard Cornel Williams are also expected to start Friday.

Long Beach State has five freshmen on its roster, and newcomers Larry Anderson and Casper Ware will also get a starting nod on Friday.

"It's a very athletic team, they have good shooters and a couple of guys who can really attack the basket, and they're a little bit bigger this season," Rose said.

Game time Friday is set for 7 p.m. The Cougars will be looking for their 48th straight win at the Marriott Center, the nation's longest current home winning streak.

NOTES: Senior guard/forward Archie Rose is still out with a stress fracture in his left foot, but has started advanced rehab work and might return to the court after the Thanksgiving break. Rose announced plans to redshirt walk-on freshman forward Michael Boswell and sophomore guard Michael Loyd.

E-mail: jrayburn@desnews.com