BYU Hoops: Cougars will rematch Pepperdine after lots of changes since Dec. 30

2014-01-09T00:15:00Z 2014-01-14T08:24:29Z BYU Hoops: Cougars will rematch Pepperdine after lots of changes since Dec. 30Jason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
January 09, 2014 12:15 am  • 

It made sense why BYU may have been caught off-guard a couple of weeks ago playing at Pepperdine.

Look at the stats now — nearly 60 percent of the Waves' scoring is by players that weren't part of the program last year.

The Cougars may try and up the ante on that unfamiliarity with Thursday's 7 p.m. rematch at the Marriott Center.

Starting center Eric Mika, hobbled by a bruised hip since last Saturday's game, hasn't practiced much this week and is likely limited for the 9-7 Cougars (1-2 West Coast Conference). Rotating guard Matt Carlino has been officially dubbed the backup point guard.

Skyler Halford, who had 11 points in 23 minutes in the defeat in Malibu, Calif., right before the new year, has taken over at the shooting-guard spot. He missed all three 3-point attempts at Pepperdine but then hit 4-of-8 last Saturday as BYU snapped a four-game losing streak against San Diego.

So BYU's getting itself figured out. Now to find answers they couldn't last time for Pepperdine.

"They're a good team," said BYU point guard Kyle Collinsworth. "We know what we're up against. We've got to come out focused."

Pepperdine (10-6, 3-1) hit 13-of-24 3-point shots in its first win in five tries as West Coast Conference opponents of the Cougars. Pretty amazing, considering the Waves were a 27-percent shooting team at home from behind the arc heading into that game.

So the question becomes, what's going to be replicated?

The Waves' hot hands, or BYU's resurgent lineup that was more impressive defensively against USD last weekend than it had been all season. And how will Halford be handled?

Collinsworth praised his own team, saying it'll be more prepared to guard outside shooters. He said players have been more diligent at scouting teams while watching iPads (no 16-millimeter video reel anymore, folks) and "knowing their personnel really well."

BYU trailed by 13 points with eight minutes left at Pepperdine. There were a couple of opportunities to get within tie-score range, but missed free throws and a couple late defensive lapses hurt.

It also affected BYU that Eric Mika fouled out, and was assessed a technical foul in the final stages of that game.

Mika isn't talking right now, either. But that was because a team official said he had Wednesday evening class, when the team granted media access.

Mika only played 17 minutes against USD on Saturday. He took a couple of hard spills — par for the course this year, it seems — and came out of the game for good after a dunk attempt went nowhere early in the second half.

Mika appeared to have a knee buckle as he went up for a breakaway dunk, after a teammate stole a Torero pass and left him open. Mika dribbled the ball out of bounds, played another defensive possession and was taken out.

BYU coach Dave Rose said freshman Luke Worthington and Josh Sharp, who has struggled to find minutes this year, would likely get chances to magnify their roles if Mika can't play much.

There's a little wonder about Pepperdine, too. Malcolm Brooks — who had 24 points and hit 6-of-9 threes against the Cougars — is sporting a sprained ankle.

BYU (9-7, 1-2 West Coast Conference) vs. Pepperdine (10-6, 3-1)

7 p.m., Marriott Center

Radio: KSL 1160 AM (102.7 FM)


Tip-ins: Pepperdine won the last meeting, Dec. 30, 80-74. It was the Waves' first win in five tries vs. the Cougars as WCC foes. ...Pepperdine is led by Brendan Lane, a 6-9 forward who averages 15.4 ppg and 8.4 rpg. Lane is a UCLA transfer, and one-time Bruin teammate of BYU guard Matt Carlino. ...Rose announced after Wednesday's practice that Carlino will be the backup point guard. That means Kyle Collinsworth will play the point and Skyler Halford (coming off a 28-point game last Sat. vs. San Diego) will be at shooting guard in the starting five.

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