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After season-opening win against Princeton, BYU hosts Coppin State

Coppin State (0-2) at BYU (1-0)

Thursday 7 p.m. MDT Marriott Center


Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM

PROVO — Fresh off an impressive season-opening home victory over Princeton, BYU is looking to build from here.

Even though it’s still very early in the season, the Cougars' 82-73 win against the Ivy League favorites could bolster their NCAA tournament résumé.

“Both of us knew this game would be a good win, but it will last quite a while if both teams stay healthy,” said coach Dave Rose. “That’s a good basketball team. That will be a good win in January and in March. They’ll win a lot of games.”

“We knew Princeton was a really good team coming in,” said guard Nick Emery, who scored 15 points against the Tigers. “Their RPI is really high and they’re going to play a lot of good teams this year. We’re going to cheer for Princeton to go far. They’re going to have a successful year.”

Now the Cougars (1-0) host Coppin State Thursday (7 p.m., MST, BYUtv) as part of the MGM Grand Main Event, which also includes Saturday’s home game against Coastal Carolina and next week’s games in Las Vegas, starting with a matchup next Monday against Saint Louis.

Coppin State (0-2) lost at Valparaiso 78-58 last Monday.

BYU benefited from its advantage inside against Princeton as forward Eric Mika scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds.

“The biggest area that he’s grown is his maturity and confidence,” Rose said. “As a youngster, nobody was harder on Eric than Eric himself. He’s learned a great deal about the next play, how to move on to the next one. We saw a lot of that (Monday).”

Of the 82 points BYU scored, 60 came from players who were not on the roster last season.

With so many newcomers, Rose tightened his rotation against Princeton. Only seven Cougars played significant minutes.

“You’ll see a lot more guys play as we move forward,” Rose said. “This would be a tough spot for brand new guys in their first game. We mostly played guys who have had Division I experience, except for T.J. (Haws) and Yoeli (Childs).”

Rose liked what he saw from his players in the opener.

“One of the tough things about a new team. Your natural reaction is, when it gets really tough, is to take over as a player and make it happen,” he said. “That’s when you really need to rely on each other and make team plays. We saw a little bit of both. It’s a great learning experience. We got some big team plays in really big moments.”

“It was the first game for a lot of people on this team,” Mika said. “It was cool to see everyone’s mentality and giving it their all for the time they were on the court.”