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BYU has to wait even longer to open league play as game at San Diego postponed; 4 WCC games scheduled for Saturday are off

Three other WCC games scheduled for Saturday — Loyola Marymount vs. Santa Clara; Portland-Pacific; and Pepperdine-Saint Mary’s — were also postponed. 

FILE — BYU head coach Mark Pope talks to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Utah State Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP, Pool)

Maybe the West Coast Conference should have created a Las Vegas “bubble” after all.

A couple of months ago, there were reports that the WCC was actively exploring the creation of a “bubble” in Las Vegas, a centralized location to play conference games this season due to the pandemic.

That didn’t materialize, of course. Meanwhile, the league’s schedule so far has been decimated by COVID-19 issues.

BYU’s WCC-opener at San Diego Saturday was postponed because of COVID-19 “concerns” at San Diego. The Toreros fell 70-62 at San Francisco Thursday in its WCC opener.

The Cougars were supposed to tip off conference play Pepperdine Thursday, but that game was also postponed.

Three other WCC games scheduled for Saturday — Loyola Marymount vs. Santa Clara; Portland vs. Pacific; and Pepperdine vs. Saint Mary’s — were postponed. The only one left on the schedule, as of Friday afternoon, is Gonzaga vs. San Francisco.

More than half of the league’s programs have paused activities during the season — Gonzaga, San Diego, LMU, Pacific and Pepperdine. LMU, Pacific, and Pepperdine are paused right now.

BYU (9-2) is scheduled to play Pacific next Thursday at the Marriott Center.

The Cougars were on a charter flight en route to Southern California Wednesday afternoon when they learned that the Pepperdine game was postponed. The plane turned around and returned to Provo.

BYU learned about the San Diego game being postponed as Friday’s practice concluded before leaving for the trip.

Coach Mark Pope knew before the season tipped off there was a strong possibility of schedule disruptions.

“Based on the history of the last four or five months in every sport, minus the NBA, we have every expectation there’s going to be hiccups and sideways things along the way,” Pope said in October. “It does seem like everybody is really, really committed to push forward with whatever we can make of this season. That’s a really positive thing. We’re trying to do it as safely as we possibly can. It’s healthy for our guys. … I’ll be surprised if we get through this season without some hiccups right now.”

The WCC is working with the league’s programs and broadcast partner ESPN to find alternate dates for games that have missed, but it’s going to be increasingly difficult with so many games postponed already.

The Cougars managed to play all 11 of its non-conference games scheduled. But at this point, BYU will have to wait even longer to play its first WCC game of the season.