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BYU's Seljaas making key contributions; Is Nixon close to returning to the floor?

BYU guard Zac Seljaas blocks a shot by Pepperdine's Darnell Dunn in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.
BYU guard Zac Seljaas blocks a shot by Pepperdine's Darnell Dunn in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO — BYU sophomore guard Zac Seljaas hasn’t been knocking down 3-pointers like he did his freshman year, but he is contributing in a lot of ways for the Cougars.

Seljaas started his second straight game Saturday in BYU's 84-50 thumping of Santa Clara. He tied his season-high by scoring 11 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the field, including 1 of 2 on 3-point attempts. He also added two rebounds and two assists.

As a freshman in 2015-16, Seljaas was known primarily for his outside shooting and he connected on 68 of 136 3-pointers (50 percent).

Seljaas returned home from the LDS Church Iowa Des Moines Mission last March due to a lingering shoulder injury.

This season, Seljaas has made 19 of 55 3-pointers (34 percent). While he hasn’t been shooting as well from distance as he did two years ago, Seljaas is improving as a player, assistant coach Heath Schroyer explained.

“Zac has worked extremely hard. Coming back off a mission, it’s taken him a little bit of time to get his rhythm,” Schroyer said. “As a staff, we have a lot of confidence in Zac being able to play to his potential. He’s doing a lot of things really well. You look at the San Francisco game, he had three assists to Yoeli (Childs). That was a huge impact in the game. Defensively, he’s gotten so much better. He’s struggled to knock down his shot here and there. That’s going to come. There’s a lot of basketball left. We’re going to need Zac to play well and I have all the confidence in the world that he will.”

NIXON ON THE VERGE OF RETURNING?: Forward Dalton Nixon hasn’t played since Dec. 6 in a 80-68 victory over Illinois State in Provo due to a foot injury.

Nixon was a major contributor at the start of the season, averaging 6.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game over the first nine games. He has missed the last 10 contests.

Coach Dave Rose is optimistic that Nixon could return to the floor soon.

“He’s in a process now where he does a little more every day. We evaluate the next day how he feels,” Rose said. “The timetable is close. It’s four-to-six weeks and we’re right in that area now. We’ll start to give him a little more each day and see how he responds. I don’t know if he’ll play next week or not. But he’s getting closer.”

NEXT UP: The Cougars host Loyola Marymount in a late-night tipoff Thursday (9 p.m., MST, ESPNU) at the Marriott Center.

The Lions (6-11, 1-5) fell to San Diego last Saturday, 75-71. LMU is led by junior guard James Batemon, who averages 16.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5 assists per game. Batemon scored 30 points against the Toreros.

BYU entertains San Diego (13-5, 4-2) next Saturday. The Toreros host Portland Thursday.