PROVO — BYU was hoping that 6-foot-11 senior forward Nate Austin would return to the lineup soon to bolster the Cougars’ inside presence.
But Austin, who suffered a torn hamstring just prior to the Utah game on Dec. 10, had a setback with his hamstring this week that will likely keep him on the bench for a while longer.
It's tough news for the Cougars, who desperately need his size, rebounding ability and experience.
“Nate practiced (Wednesday) and had a really good practice,” said coach Dave Rose. “In the last two minutes of our last drill, he tweaked that thing again. He won’t play this week. The doctors will examine it while we’re gone (for Saturday's game at San Diego) and then see what the situation is when we get back on Monday. That’s really unfortunate.”
In 10 games as a starter before the injury, Austin averaged 3.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest. BYU has missed his ability to defend inside as well.
In last Saturday’s loss at Saint Mary’s, Gael forward Brad Waldow scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against the Cougars.
Sophomore Luke Worthington has started the 11 games for the Cougars since Austin went down with the injury. Worthington averages 2.4 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
Center Corbin Kaufusi and forward Isaac Neilson come off the bench to help inside.
“Luke is the guy who understands our defensive game plan, game-in and game-out,” Rose explained when asked why Worthington has been starting. “He’s the guy that can execute all of the game plans the best. Corbin and Isaac are guys that are good at some things, but you can’t really determine what they’re going to start the first four or five minutes of the game with. Luke’s the guy that’s got a better comprehension of the whole plan.”