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BYU basketball: Road-weary Cougars visit league-leading Gonzaga

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There’s not a whole lot that anybody can say to make you feel better. We’ve got to come back and put it behind us and get ready for Saturday. – BYU coach Dave Rose

SPOKANE, Wash. — As tough as Thursday night’s grueling triple-overtime loss at Portland was for BYU, things could get even tougher this weekend.

The road-weary Cougars visit league-leading Gonzaga Saturday (8 p.m. MST, ESPN2).

BYU is looking to bounce back from the gut-wrenching, 114-110 setback to the Pilots in triple OT at the Chiles Center.

What did coach Dave Rose tell his team afterwards?

“There’s not a whole lot that anybody can say to make you feel better,” Rose said. “We’ve got to come back and put it behind us and get ready for Saturday. … You just want to win. It doesn’t really matter about the minutes or the overtimes. We’ll have to regroup and see how we respond from this one.”

The Cougars’ loss at Portland snapped a five-game winning streak. It was their first defeat since falling at Pepperdine, 80-74, on Dec. 30.

How much energy does BYU have left as it wraps up a four-game road swing?

Cougar guard Tyler Haws poured in a career-high 48 points at Portland and played 50 minutes. It was the third-best individual scoring night in BYU history, trailing only 52-point and 49-point performances by former Cougar star, and consensus All-America, Jimmer Fredette.

Haws' 48 tied for the top single-game individual scoring performance in Division I basketball this season, and it was the highest-scoring effort in West Coast Conference history since former Loyola Marymount star Bo Kimble scored 50 points in 1990.

Haws said the Cougars will do everything they can to get ready for the Bulldogs.

“First, we’ve got to get our bodies right. That’s No. 1,” he said. “We’ve got to get feeling right, then just prepare like we always do, and just keep fighting. That’s all we can do.”

While he’s coming off his career-high performance, Haws was a stunning 0 for 9 from the field last year in a 20-point loss against Gonzaga at “The Kennel.” He finished with one point after making a free throw in the waning minutes of the game.

To beat the Bulldogs, BYU will need strong play from Haws, and others, like it did at Portland.

Against the Pilots, Matt Carlino came off the bench to score 25 points and dish out nine assists in 44 minutes. Nate Austin, who tweaked his ankle in Tuesday’s practice, not only started the game, but he also played 52 minutes and pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with seven points.

Kyle Collinsworth recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Collinsworth logged 43 minutes.

BYU will need improved defensive play Saturday. The Cougars gave up 27 points to Portland backup guard Bobby Sharp, who drilled eight 3-pointers. Pilot center Thomas van der Mars also had 27 points and pulled down 18 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Gonzaga is coming off a narrow victory Thursday at home against San Diego.

Sam Dower Jr. had 18 points and Kevin Pangos scored a layup with 1:27 remaining to lift the Bulldogs to a 59-56 win. The Toreros’ Johnny Dee scored a game-high 26 points and Christopher Anderson missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that could have sent the game into overtime.

Gonzaga can relate somewhat to BYU. It lost at Portland earlier this month, halting a 20-game winning streak against the Pilots.

The Bulldogs have won three in a row since that defeat and they sit atop the WCC standings with a 7-1 record. Saint Mary’s is in second place (5-2), followed by BYU (5-3), San Francisco (5-3) and Pepperdine (5-4).

The Cougars need to knock off Gonzaga to stay in the hunt for the regular-season WCC championship.