The only thing most BYU men's basketball fans probably knew about freshman Nate Austin entering the season was that he is tall (6-foot-10).

Utah Valley sports fans might remember him for the role he played when with Tyler Haws he led Lone Peak to the 2008 state boys basketball championship and a second-place finish in 2009.

After Saturday afternoon's 79-65 victory over Oregon at EnergySolutions Arena, however, all Cougar supporters will recognize the big freshman.

His emergence is a big boost for the BYU front line, especially with Chris Collinsworth still battling lingering soreness in his knee.

"Last two nights have been terrific," said Cougar head coach Dave Rose. "Nate has played really well in practice and he continues to get better."

Austin had a nice performance in the later minutes of BYU's blowout win against Northern Arizona (11 points, one trey, four rebounds) but he took it to another level against the Ducks.

His complete game was on display as he scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds and drained a 3-pointer.

He did other things that didn't show up on the stat chart as he drew at least two charges, kept many rebounds alive, made some nice outlet passes and altered a number of shots.

If that type of performance looks familiar, it's because you might've seen a similar style from another player wearing a BYU uniform who has also been in the spotlight: senior forward Noah Hartsock.

Both guys are big and have displayed the ability to be physical inside, while each have great range with their jump shots that can stretch the floor.

"He (Hartsock) has been so consistent, teammates now are really starting to look for him to be the guy," Rose said. "It's tough to manipulate that as the coach. Players kind of have to accept that."

While the senior was leading the team with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, he also got to see his counterpart beginning to come into his own.

"He's a big physical guy who came from a great high school program at Lone Peak," Hartsock said. "We're getting some big help from him. I think he's getting experience in game situations and seeing what he needs to do."

Hartsock also credited assistant coach Mark Pope for helping the freshman develop.

The exciting aspect is that the freshman can develop in so many more ways but right now he's bringing fire to the floor with his spark.

"(It's big to have the) energy that he plays with, his passion, but sometimes he goes too fast," Rose said. "But you'd rather have a guy that you have to slow down than a guy that you have to try and speed up."

Austin said that he was thrilled with what he was able to do on the floor Saturday. He said it's simply a matter of sticking to the game plan.

"We know if we trust our coaches and go out there and give it 100 percent on every play, we can beat anybody," he said. "At BYU we play fast with a lot of energy, an up-tempo type game. We like to play the game at our pace."

With Austin joining a low-post rotation that should eventually include Hartsock, junior Brandon Davies and sophomore Chris Collinsworth.

As the freshman continues to improve, that would be a solid, reliable group that could present a variety of challenges for opponents.

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or at He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.