Provo • As if having to worry about snapping their two-game home losing streak against No. 24 Gonzaga on Thursday isn’t enough, the BYU Cougars have to be concerned a little bit about the odd starting time, 9 p.m., at the Marriott Center.
Well, actually, they don’t.
“It is fine,” guard Matt Carlino said after practice Tuesday, after noting that he has a “fun class” early Friday morning that he won’t miss. “It will be good. If we can’t get up for the game, then we have some problems.”
The game will be televised by ESPN2, which explains the late tip.
Another crowd of more than 22,000 fans is expected, and coach Dave Rose said players would rather play later than earlier than the usual 7 p.m. starting time, so the later start isn’t a big challenge.
“You know, [growing up] you are always used to playing late games, and because we are college students, we are used to staying up late anyways. So we might as well play at that time,” forward Noah Hartsock said.
On the bubble
Not surprisingly, BYU’s second-straight home loss last week seriously damaged the Cougars’ hopes of getting an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi now has the Cougars among the “First Four Out,” but has WCC rivals Saint Mary’s (No. 5 seed) and Gonzaga (No. 6) clearly in the big dance.
Andy Glockner of SI.com also dropped BYU from his projections.
Jerry Palm of CBSsports.com has the Cougars still in, however, as a No. 13 seed.
Much has been made of BYU’s shooting woes lately, but from the free-throw line the Cougars have actually improved. They were shooting 69.2 percent from the free-throw line through their first 18 games.
In their past six games, however, they are shooting 74.7 percent (121 of 162).
Forward Stephen Rogers practiced Monday on his sore right knee, but took Tuesday off and will probably be another game-time decision Thursday. … Hartsock needs just five blocks to catch Russell Larson for third place on BYU’s career blocks list with 166. … BYU post players Brandon Davies (26) and Nate Austin (20) have combined to take 46 charges this season.
Gonzaga at BYU
P Thursday, 9 p.m.
TV • ESPN2