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BYU men's basketball: Cougars hope to continue defensive focus against CSU Bakersfield

Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) goes to work on Weber State Wildcats forward Kyndahl Hill (35) as BYU and Weber State play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.
Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) goes to work on Weber State Wildcats forward Kyndahl Hill (35) as BYU and Weber State play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.
Scott G Winterton,

PROVO — A contest against CSU Bakersfield likely won't grab headlines, but Thursday's game against the Roadrunners certainly has BYU coach Dave Rose's attention.

When giving his postgame comments after Tuesday's 84-58 win over Idaho State, Rose immediately turned his attention to his next opponent, stating, "Any time you play a team before Christmas that has won eight or nine games, you know it's going to be tough. You know they don't quit and you know they don't back down and they're used to winning."

The Cougars (8-4) will tip off against the Roadrunners (8-4) at 7 p.m. MST at the Marriott Center on Thursday and will be televised live on BYUtv.

Rose hasn't watched a lot of film on CSU Bakersfield, but has followed their scores and has known Roadrunner coach Rod Barnes for a number of years.

"He got them to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever (last year) and he's playing with a lot of those same guys," Rose said. "They're used to winning and we're going to have to break that. We're going to have to break their spirit. We're going to have to compete."

DEFENSIVE MENTALITY: It's no secret that Rose coaches an up-tempo style where high scores, by both teams during any given game, can be common. The perception, as a result, may be some inattention to defense, but according to BYU freshman forward Yoeli Childs, defense is at the forefront of his focus.

“The defensive mentality for this team is huge,” Childs said. “When we lose games we’re usually trying to outscore teams, it seems like. So when we lock down on defense and decide we’re not going to let anyone get in front of us … then we’re really good.”

Evidence of defensive focus yielding positive results came with BYU's latest win over the Bengals. The Cougars gave up just 58 points while limiting Idaho State to just 34 percent shooting from the field. They also out-rebounded the Bengals 46-28. As for Childs, he grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and had three blocked shots.

Idaho State certainly doesn't pose the biggest offensive challenge and the team is aware that much tougher tests lie ahead. CSU Bakersfield, and its 74.6 points per game, is up next followed by West Coast Conference play, starting with a home game against Santa Clara followed by a road contest against Loyola Marymount, to close out the 2016 calendar year.