Provo • Saturday’s 85-67 victory at Portland marked the halfway point of West Coast Conference regular-season play for the BYU Cougars, who went 6-2 while facing every team in the league this month — four at home and four on the road.
The win also helped the Cougars recover a bit of confidence after they were pummeled 83-63 at No. 10 Gonzaga, but illustrated how much of a gap there is between the top of the WCC and the bottom.
In other words, playing well against Gonzaga — which BYU didn’t do — is a lot different than playing well against the Pilots (1-6), tied for the league’s worst record with disappointing Loyola Marymount.
But the Cougars (16-6 overall) weren’t about to give this one back.
“This was a big win for our mental approach to this thing,” said coach Dave Rose, whose team flew directly from Spokane, Wash., to Portland, Ore., and did not return to Provo in between games. “There are some things that we did really well on this trip that we can evaluate, but there are a lot of things we need to work on, get better at. It will be nice to be home, look at some film, and go through our daily routine. Then we will get out and go through it again.”
The Cougars begin the second half of league play — but continue their three-game road swing away from the Marriott Center — on Thursday at Pepperdine, which played well at Saint Mary’s on Saturday before falling 84-72 to the Gaels.
“Those [road games] are the toughest ones to get,” said BYU senior Brandon Davies. “It is always good to go into other buildings and get a good solid win there. We like those wins, and we love playing at home as well. But you got to handle business on the road.”
With 20 points and 11 rebounds while committing just three fouls and three turnovers, Davies played perhaps his best overall game since he sprained his right ankle in BYU’s 97-71 win over Virginia Tech on Dec. 29. His rebound dunk in the second half showed the explosiveness he has seemingly lacked in WCC play, but a few minutes later he tweaked the ankle again on the defensive end.
He said the ankle “is still weak so it doesn’t take too much to re-aggravate it,” but didn’t think it would cause him to miss any upcoming practices or games.
“It stings to come off a loss, especially against a great team, and what you got to do is put that in the past, as much as it hurts, and move forward, and do whatever you can to get the next win,” Davies said. “This is definitely a confidence boost. We had guys step up and play well, and from this point on we just have to keep moving forward.”
BYU at Pepperdine
P Thursday, 8 p.m. MST, TV • ROOT