Matt Carlino has only played two games, yet there's no "only" about his contributions.

He tied the team high with 18 points against top 10-ranked Baylor last weekend and the freshman point guard followed it Tuesday by nearly recording BYU's first triple-double in 23 years against Buffalo.

What's he got on tap for the trilogy Thursday night?

"Hopefully a win," Carlino said after he fell only three rebounds shy of his objective in the closing minutes, unable to secure any more caroms despite knowing he was home free in points (10) and assists (11). "I still wish we were 2-0."

That's with the freshman point guard himself on the floor, as Carlino has mostly lived up to expectations with a loss and win that can be credited in part to him.

Head coach Dave Rose continues to say that Carlino needs more playing time. Not just for teammates to adjust to his skills and vice versa, even though he's been at BYU for nearly a year, but because the relative newcomer is still figuring out the right mind frame to enter a game with.

Rose, who says he's seen this a lot over the years, says that players tend to enter a program with "his own agenda." Meaning: What can I do to help the team?

Carlino hit half his shots against Baylor (7-of-14) in the three-point loss and Rose figured his player, a UCLA transfer, probably had it calculated that he again had to come up with 18 points pretty quick three nights later.

Early against Buffalo, Carlino forced some shot attempts and wound up missing all six shots before halftime.

Carlino's balancing act may further be heightened because of his mid-year availability, predicated upon when he transfered from UCLA. He did not play an official game there, but by leaving just a few games into the 2010-11 regular season was required to be out until an unusual time - the end of BYU's fall semester of classes.

Carlino clearly has some similar skills and attitude of former BYU star Jimmer Fredette, who hung around campus until recently because of the NBA lockout. Carlino got to guard him a countless number of times.

Now, on his own, Carlino even sounds like Fredette. He's quiet, but self-assured. He can't believe when a shot doesn't go in.

He can't believe when his team's lost.

And when the Cougars do turn it around, as they did against Buffalo, he'll praise teammates first.

Rose appears to have a nice mixture since moving Carlino to the starting lineup for the Buffalo game. Craig Cusick is the backup and Anson Winder is back to being a shooting guard. The injury to Stephen Rogers helped make that move, too, though Winder (a redshirt freshman like Carlino) made it pay off Tuesday with a career-high 20 points, including six 3-pointers.

The growing curve for Carlino continues tonight (7 p.m., Marriott Center) against UC Santa Barbara, a 5-4 squad.

Since taking then-No. 18 UNLV to double overtime at home (a few days after former BYU assistant coach Dave Rice's Rebels ousted top-ranked North Carolina), the Gauchos are 1-2 with consecutive losses at Washington and Cal.

Most concerning about Carlino right now, though it's to be expected, is his penchant for impatience. He has nine turnovers in two games. A few are just clumsy miscues, while a handful are trying-too-much plays in which he's taken the ball too hard and too close to the basket. He gets called for charging.

He had 11 assists against Buffalo. But coaches are already confident in his skills and psyche enough to hammer in what was possible.

"Coach (Terry) Nashif told me I could have had 15," Carlino said. "There are some more plays out there I can make for my teammates." 

 

BYU (9-3) vs. UC Santa Barbara (5-4)

7 p.m., Marriott Center

Radio: KSL 1160 AM (102.7 FM)

TV: BYUtv

Tip-ins: The Gauchos have lost their last two games, both on the road, to Washington and Cal by a combined 27 points. ...BYU has two games remaining (counting this one) until it begins West Coast Conference play Dec. 29 at St. Mary's. ...6-5 senior guard Orlando Johnson leads UCSB in scoring (22.4) and shoots 45 percent from the field. ...Backup BYU center Nate Austin is expected to play after leaving the Buffalo game Tuesday with a sore elbow in the final minute. ...The status of Damarcus Harrison, a BYU freshman guard (ankle), is still questionable.