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BYU starts 2 freshmen, 3 sophomores against Pepperdine

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MALIBU, Calif. — At Pepperdine Thursday night, BYU started its youngest team in nearly 20 years.

With senior guard L.J. Rose sidelined — he’s undergoing surgery Friday for a torn meniscus in his right knee — the Cougars started freshman TJ Haws at point guard, along with freshman Yoeli Childs, sophomore Elijah Bryant, sophomore Nick Emery and sophomore Eric Mika.

According to BYU media relations director Kyle Chilton, it marked the first game the Cougars didn't start any juniors or seniors since Dec. 9, 1998, when BYU also started two freshmen and two sophomores. BYU lost to WSU that night, 70-69.

Pepperdine started four seniors and a freshman Thursday.

The Cougars opened the 2016-17 season with two seniors on the roster, forward Kyle Davis and L.J. Rose. Davis was lost for the year in mid-December due to knee surgery. Rose’s status for the remainder of the season will be determined after his surgery.

BYU has only three juniors on the roster — guard Davin Guinn and forwards Jamal Aytes and Corbin Kaufusi.

Kaufusi did not make the trip to Malibu due to illness. There’s a chance that he could rejoin the team when it plays at San Francisco Saturday night.

Associate head coach Tim LaComb had also been sick this past week but he was on the sideline Thursday.

MORE ON WIN NO. 300: Last Saturday, BYU coach Dave Rose earned his 300th career victory.

Mika talked earlier this week about that accomplishment.

“It’s a big deal. Three hundred of anything is a lot. Winning 300 wins is not easy,” Mika said. “One win at this level is not easy. Coach has done a tremendous job having a winning year every year and getting us to postseason play every year. It just goes to show how good of a coach he is and how much he knows. I’m excited to see how many he accumulates throughout the rest of his career.”

MIKA RECEIVES HONOR: Mika was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 Team Thursday.

District 8 is made up of eight states in the Western region of the United States — Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average at his current institution. Nominated athletes must have participated in at least 50 percent of the team's games.

The CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 team also includes Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga), Nate Kratch (Santa Clara), Joe Rahon (Saint Mary’s) and Joshua Braun (Grand Canyon).

Mika, a pre-management major has a 3.68 GPA. On the court, Mika is averaging team highs of 20.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 77.4 percent from the free-throw line. He is first in West Coast Conference in rebounding, blocks and double-doubles and is second in scoring.