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BYU ‘fired up’ for rematch with San Francisco after suffering heartbreaking loss at USF 2 weeks ago

When the Cougars lost at USF on Jan. 25, BYU led 54-40 with 16 minutes left before collapsing. San Francisco guard Khalil Shabazz came off the bench and scored a career-high 32 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the floor that day.

SHARE BYU ‘fired up’ for rematch with San Francisco after suffering heartbreaking loss at USF 2 weeks ago
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Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) looks to pass around a block by Utah State Aggies guard Brock Miller (22) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in the Beehive Classic at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019.

Colter Peterson, Deseret News

PROVO — Dating back to last season, BYU has dropped three consecutive games against San Francisco.

In the last two, the Cougars have squandered 14-point, second-half leads against the Dons, including an 83-82 loss at San Francisco two weeks ago.

“I’m ready right now. If we could go out there and tip it up right now, even after this game, we’d all be ready to go.” — BYU forward Yoeli Childs, on facing San Francisco again

Fortunately for BYU, it doesn’t have to wait long to try to avenge that setback when it hosts the Dons Saturday (7:30 p.m. MST, BYUtv).

“I’m ready right now. If we could go out there and tip it up right now, even after this game, we’d all be ready to go,” said forward Yoeli Childs after scoring 22 points in Thursday’s 85-54 win at Portland. “We’re really excited. It’s going to be a battle. We’re going to bring the fight to them.”

When the Cougars lost at USF on Jan. 25, BYU led 54-40 with 16 minutes left before collapsing. San Francisco guard Khalil Shabazz came off the bench and scored a career-high 32 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the floor that day. 

Childs missed a crucial free throw with 17.6 seconds remaining with a chance to tie the game.

“It was heartbreaking. It was tough. We fought but we didn’t fight the right way. They got a bucket and then we got a bucket,” Childs said. “But I wouldn’t go back and change that loss because we’ve learned so much about the defensive end and the importance of it. Because we’re a good shooting team doesn’t mean we can go out and outshoot teams. We’re just excited for the opportunity. We’re really lucky that it’s only a two-week span before we get to play them again.”

The Dons lost at home to Pacific Thursday night, 60-48. USF trailed 29-13 at halftime. 

Going into Saturday’s game, BYU (18-7, 7-3) is ranked No. 15 in the Kenpom.com rankings and projected as a No. 7 seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest ESPN bracketology

Coach Mark Pope’s focus, though, is on San Francisco (16-9, 5-5). 

“They’re really good. We can’t seem to beat them. They’ve beaten us three times in a row. We have our work cut out for us Saturday,” he said. “We have to play better and more consistently than we did there two weeks ago. We do believe we are getting better every day. We can tangibly feel ways that we’ve gotten better the last two weeks. We’ll get tested Saturday again.”

BYU guard Jake Toolson, who scored 22 points at Portland while hobbled with an ankle injury, said his team has been pointing to Saturday’s game for the past two weeks. 

“Ever since that game went south, we’ve been looking at that one,” he said. “We’ll be ready to go and we’ll be fired up. I can’t wait. This team has grown since that loss. That’s what we do. If that’s what it takes to have a loss on the road, one that we should have won, to be able to lock in again and refocus and focus on the details, and defending down the stretch, that’s what we needed. We’re going to look at it like that. We’re excited to see them again.”

San Francisco (16-9, 5-5) vs. BYU (18-7, 7-3)

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. MST

Marriott Center

TV: BYUtv

Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM