Provo • This hasn’t been an easy week for the BYU basketball team, still smarting from its 81-64 loss at Utah on Saturday night.
The Cougars (8-4) have been taking final exams and slowly preparing to take on one of the top teams in the country, No. 13 Oregon, while trying to figure out what went wrong against a team they had defeated seven straight times by an average of 15.1 points.
“We have to go home and take finals for three or four days, and then get ready for Oregon,” coach Dave Rose said after the loss. “So it doesn’t get any easier.”
Wednesday night, they will get a break from the gloom by bringing some joy to grief-stricken local families.
The team will conduct its annual party at the NuSkin Innovation Center in Provo to cheer up children who have cancer, and their families.
Formerly known as the Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation, the initiative has been renamed the Mac’s Gift Children’s Cancer Foundation in honor of Mac Boyter, the organization’s founder who died in October.
Rose, who has battled the disease twice since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009, his wife Cheryl and the BYU basketball team have been involved with the charity the past 14 years.
The foundation collects monetary donations and unwrapped toys that go directly towards the annual party, which hosts more than 60 families living primarily in Utah County.
A lot has been made about how the Cougars shot just 32.8 percent from the field against the Utes, and how captains Tyler Haws (3-11), Matt Carlino (3-15) and Kyle Collinsworth (3-11) combined to go 9 of 37.
In his Monday press conference, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak reminded everybody that the Utes had something to do with the Cougars’ lousy shooting.
“We held them to six points in transition and no one has done that this season,” Krystkowiak said. “First and foremost, we played great defense. We worked on penetration angles and not letting BYU score early in the shot clock. … Our defense made it easier on the offensive end.”
Former BYU standout Brandon Davies had one of his better games as a professional Monday night in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 130-94 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Davies scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds in 16 minutes. He also had three steals and an assist and was 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.
Davies is averaging 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game for 7-19 Philadelphia, while logging 12.3 minutes per game. He is shooting just 34 percent from the field.
Despite the big loss at Utah, the Cougars are still projected to make the NCAA Tournament by most bracketologists, although it is really, really early for such prognostications. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has BYU as a No. 10 seed in his first installment of the season. Lunardi has the WCC’s Gonzaga as a No. 5 and Saint Mary’s as a No. 8. … Heading into this week’s games, the four teams that have beaten BYU this season (Utah, Wichita State, Iowa State and UMass) were a combined 36-1.
BYU at Oregon
Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks