While BYU and San Diego are members of the same West Coast Conference, it’s been almost two full years since the two teams have played each other.

On Feb. 15, 2020, a month before COVID-19 interrupted the world, TJ Haws’ alley-oop pass to Yoeli Childs with 11.1 seconds remaining helped propel the Cougars to a 72-71 victory over the Toreros at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Then last season, BYU’s two scheduled games with USD were canceled due to coronavirus cases within the Toreros’ program. The Cougars found out their game at San Diego was canceled just hours before tipoff. 

Cougars on the air

San Diego (10-7, 3-1)

at BYU (15-4, 3-1) 

Thursday, 7 p.m. MST

Marriott Center


Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM

BYU and USD are scheduled to meet Thursday (7 p.m. MST, BYUtv) at the Marriott Center. 

“We haven’t seen them. We know this team. They’re good,” said coach Mark Pope. “They’re tied for second place with us. They got to 3-1 without two of their best players. I think both will be healthy. I think they’ll have a full roster. We’re tied for second. It will be everything we can handle.”

USD has won six of its last eight games and has won three WCC contests in a row, with victories over Pepperdine, Portland and Loyola Marymount. 

Meanwhile, the Cougars are coming off a three-game stretch that saw them beat Saint Mary’s at home, then fall to now-No. 1 Gonzaga and edge San Francisco, both on the road.

While Pope said his team has a sense of urgency, he’s addressed with his team the importance of avoiding an emotional letdown. 

“We do that all the time. … Veterans know the next game is going to be the hardest game we’ve played. It would be human nature to go through those three teams, especially with two of them on the road, and want to exhale,” Pope said. “But that’s not how league works. We’ve been through this. We remember last year, with a solid Pacific team but certainly not one of the top teams in the league, we had to save our season and save ourselves in overtime.

“We remember two years ago at San Diego and having to save our season with a last-second play. These games are always hard. League games are like in-state games. For everybody but the Zags. It doesn’t matter if the team’s been good or been bad or no matter what the pundits say, every single game is up-for-grabs. We understand the reality of that. We’re talking about it a lot. It’s the nature of the deal.”

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The Cougars will also host Portland on Saturday. 

“We’ve got to see our toughness in action again,” Pope said. “It’s kind of what you hope for as you go through league. We’re going to need it all this week. It’s going to be a really tough week.”

Guard Te’Jon Lucas said his team is guarding against a letdown against San Diego and Portland just by continuing to do what they’ve done all season.

“We approach every day like we’ve been doing. I don’t think there’s been a game where we’ve been like, ‘All right, we can take the night off.’ It doesn’t matter who we play,” he said. “We always prepare the same and we’re going to go out and fight the same way. It’s no different with these teams. Just because they’re not predicted to be at the top of the league, they’re going to give us their best shot possible. They’re still great teams. We’ve got to take care of one game at a time.”

The Cougars won’t play at San Diego this season, so it’s the only matchup of 2021-22. 

USD is led by St. John’s transfer guard Marcellus Earlington, who is averaging 13.8 points per game. 

“San Diego is tied with us for second,” Lucas said. “It’s not going to be easy. Every game is a dogfight.”