BYU looking to overcome road struggles this weekend when it visits Pacific, San Francisco
The Cougars fell 92-69 at the Zags last Saturday. At the time, Gonzaga was ranked No. 1 in the nation but it dropped to No. 2 Monday when the Associated Press poll was released. This week, BYU will be tested on the road again as it visits Pacific Thursday and San Francisco Saturday.
PROVO — So far this season, the BYU basketball team has earned only one true road victory.
It was a big win, of course. In November, the Cougars defeated Houston, which is currently ranked No. 25, but since they’ve lost road games at Boise State, Utah, Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga.
BYU fell 92-69 at the Zags last Saturday. At the time, Gonzaga was ranked No. 1 in the nation, but it dropped to No. 2 Monday when the Associated Press poll was released.
This week, the Cougars (14-6, 3-2) will be tested on the road again as they visit Pacific (15-6, 3-2) Thursday and San Francisco (14-6, 3-2) Saturday.
“It’s going to be what we make it,” coach Mark Pope said of this weekend’s road trip to northern California. “It’s either going to break us and put some questions in our minds or it’s going to steel us and forge a deeper commitment. It’s no different win or lose. So far, these guys have been fantastic at answering. I expect that we’ll answer again. That’s what this group does. We have to get better every day. Clearly, we have some ground to make up to compete in this game. We have six weeks to do it. We’ve got to do it quickly.”
“It’s either going to break us and put some questions in our minds or it’s going to steel us and forge a deeper commitment.” — BYU coach Mark Pope on BYU’s upcoming road trip
Guard TJ Haws is also confident that the Cougars will be able to rebound on the road.
“This whole year this team has been good about bouncing back and getting back up after we get hit,” he said. “I think Monday we’re going to be right back at it. This team is definitely going to bounce back.”
Forward Yoeli Childs, who is dealing with a finger injury, has missed four consecutive games. He warmed up before tipoff at Gonzaga last Saturday but he did not play.
After the game, Pope said Childs, who is BYU’s leading scorer and rebounder, is day-to-day, and team doctors and trainers don’t want him to risk further injury.
“Hopefully, we can get him back soon,” Pope said.
“He’s being tested right now, isn’t he? He’s ringing the bell in a massive way. He’s a special human being. He’s being really stretched right now.” — BYU coach Mark Pope on Yoeli Childs’ injuries
Is this the week that Childs returns to the floor?
BYU played the first nine games of the season without Childs, and the Cougars have had to deal with him being out again.
“It does bring us back to some of the times earlier in the year when we had some really big wins — at Houston and the success we had in Maui,” said forward Dalton Nixon. “We’d love to have Yoeli on the court but we can’t control that. This group really relies on each other. Hopefully, he can get back on the court soon. He’s a big part of our success. But we’ve got a lot of guys that can play.”
Last week, Pope expressed his frustration about Childs’ injury situation.
“He’s being tested right now, isn’t he? He’s ringing the bell in a massive way. He’s a special human being. He’s being really stretched right now,” Pope said. “The way I know that he’s being stretched is, I feel it. I’m really trying to keep the frustration at bay. I feel it. I’m really frustrated for him and for our team right now. There’s nothing we can do about it. We don’t spend time talking about it. We have to focus on winning games. But in those quiet moments, when your mind goes there, it’s pretty hard.”
Pope added that Childs is working hard and maintaining a positive attitude through this latest trial.
“He’s been doing sprints after practice like a madman. He can hold a ball right now. We’ll see how long it is until he can catch a contested ball,” he said. “He’s going to come back and be spectacular. The one thing that I keep telling Yoeli is that it is such a gift because his legs are going to be so fresh down the stretch that he’s going to crush it.”
BYU (14-6, 3-2) at Pacific (15-6, 3-2)
Thursday, 8 p.m. MST
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM