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BYU basketball: Cougars hoping for continued improvement against Colorado

Weber State Wildcats forward Kyndahl Hill (35) grabs a rebound and tries to go back up with Brigham Young Cougars forward Eric Mika (12) and Brigham Young Cougars guard Nick Emery (4) defending as BYU and Weber State play at the Marriott Center in Provo o
Weber State Wildcats forward Kyndahl Hill (35) grabs a rebound and tries to go back up with Brigham Young Cougars forward Eric Mika (12) and Brigham Young Cougars guard Nick Emery (4) defending as BYU and Weber State play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.
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PROVO — As the BYU men's basketball team moves closer to West Coast Conference play, coach Dave Rose is hoping to see continued progress when his team takes on Colorado Saturday night at the Marriott Center.

While the Cougars showed improvement on the defensive end during their 77-66 win over Weber State on Wednesday night, Rose is hoping for better play on the offensive end, particularly from the guard line, among other things.

“Hopefully we’ll play two halves and really compete on both sides of the floor,” Rose said when asked what he hopes to see against the Buffaloes.

The Cougars battled the Buffaloes hard in their matchup last season, before taking a 92-83 loss in Boulder. Rose recalled the game for a breakout effort by then-freshman Zac Seljaas, who scored 18 points and went on to become a big part of the Cougars' rotation for the rest of the year.

Colorado (7-2) enters Saturday's game fresh off an impressive 68-66 win over Xavier while showing some changes with regards to overall pace.

“They’re a little different than they were last year,” Rose noted. “For years they’ve been a really fast-paced team from what they’re playing now.”

Colorado is led by an experienced and relatively big backcourt, which features leading scorer Derrick White (15 ppg), who stands in at 6-foot-5 and George King (11.2), who is 6-6. King led the way for the Buffaloes during last year's win over the Cougars, scoring 23 points in just 25 minutes of play. Forward Xavier Johnson (6-7) leads Colorado in the frontcourt, averaging 14.8 points per game and 6.3 rebounds.

Saturday's game will mark the first time Colorado has played at BYU in 61 years and a rare opportunity for BYU to square off against a major conference opponent at the Marriott Center.

“The guys will be excited for that,” Rose said. “But this group right now — it needs to lock out all of that stuff and really concentrate on us, and where we are, and where we need to be.”

Rose spoke of some of his players still playing too tentative and hopes to see that turned around with a win against the Buffaloes, which would give BYU consecutive wins for the first time since early in the season.

“It would be really good for the confidence of this group,” Rose said. “We haven’t won a back-to-back game for a couple of weeks, so it would be good if we could.”

After playing a sort of compressed schedule to open the year, Rose is excited about the opportunity for his players to rest a while — believing it's what they need to see real improvements in key areas.

"I think practice..and I think that we're fortunate that in our next 12 days we only got two games, instead of the six we played in one 12-day stretch," Rose said of what his players — and particularly his guards — need. "So we can practice and we can work on it."

BYU will tip-off against Colorado at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Marriott Center with the game televised live on ESPN2.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney