PROVO — BYU’s 91-33 smackdown of San Diego Saturday night sets up a big final week of the regular season.

The Cougars host Portland Thursday (9 p.m., MST, ESPNU), then entertain Gonzaga Saturday (6 p.m., MST, ESPN2) in their regular-season finale.

BYU (21-8, 12-4) remains in third place in the West Coast Conference standings and one game behind the two teams tied for first place, Saint Mary’s (22-4, 13-3) and the Zags (21-7, 13-3).

The Gaels beat Gonzaga at The Kennel last Saturday, 63-58, to sweep their regular-season series for the first time since 1995. The Cougars beat Gonzaga in Spokane in January.

After this week, the West Coast Conference tournament tips off at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Tournament seeding will be determined this weekend.

“I’m excited to see how this next weekend goes as we get ready for the (WCC) tournament,” said coach Dave Rose.

At this point for BYU, it’s all about winning games as they seek another berth to the NCAA tournament. The Cougars will likely need to win the WCC tournament title to get there.

“That’s the only thing, to continue to progress as a team and learn from our mistakes and continue forward, that's the ultimate goal,” said guard Nick Emery. “All these guys are dedicated. We want to make the (NCAA tournament). It’s going to be hard, but I believe we can do it.”

Emery said his team might be playing its best basketball right now.

“We’ve made a lot of improvement,” he said. “We’re going to continue to improve and get better each and every day.”

If BYU can continue to play like it did Saturday against San Diego, it has a good chance to claim its first conference tournament crown since 2001 and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Cougars shot 57 percent against the Toreros Saturday after shooting only 35 percent Thursday in a 69-67 win.

BYU’s 58-point win was its largest margin of victory against a Division I opponent in school history and the Cougars tied their record for fewest points allowed in the shot clock era.

“All-around, it was one of those nights. Sometimes there’s a couple of games every year where you play not very well and that’s not really your team,” Rose said. “Then there are a couple of games where you play really, really well and that’s not your team. You’re somewhere in the middle. We got one on the right end of that thing (Saturday). Our guys were really good.”

Rose said his team was motivated Saturday by a disheartening loss at home to Pacific two weeks earlier and the narrow victory at San Diego last Thursday.

“The last time in the building was a disappointment. We’ve had great crowds. These kids want to play well for the people who come,” Rose said. “Our guys have challenged themselves and our practices have been really good. We battled hard two nights ago and San Diego shot the ball really well, especially in the first half at their place, and got us on our heels. We had to correct it.”

BYU overcame a 13-point first-half deficit against San Diego at Jenny Craig Pavilion and won by two points. The Toreros outrebounded the Cougars there, 42-33. Saturday, BYU outrebounded USD, 49-28. The Cougars grabbed a big lead against the Toreros early and led by 28 at halftime, 39-11.

It’s not easy staying sharp offensively in those types of games, Rose said.

“(Saturday) we were good. And it is hard. You get a big lead sometimes and guys can go different places on how they want to finish the game on offense. I thought we shared the ball really well. There were a couple of plays in the second half that were almost picture perfect. It was guys making the extra pass. There were a lot of good possessions.”

EMAIL: jeffc@deseretnews.com