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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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Interest building for USF-BYU game in San Francisco

Just filed for the newspaper a story that will be posted online later today about what is happening when BYU's basketball team visits the smaller venues around the West Coast Conference.

As this recent blog outlined, Cougar fans are often overtaking the arenas, and causing some angst among the natives. It will be interesting to see what happens Thursday at 4,800-seat War Memorial Gym. First 4,000 folks through the doors get rally flags.

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The big news today in the world of college sports is that 17 TCU students, including four football players, were arrested on alleged charges of dealing drugs. It will be interesting to see if coach Gary Patterson survives this mess, especially with one player's admission in an affidavit that he looked over the roster and estimated that fewer than 20 players could pass a drug test.

More links:

* Here's my latest look at the Cougars' chances for an NCAA Tournament bid, and how the WCC's hopes of getting three bids to the Big Dance probably hinge on how BYU finishes out the regular season. St. Mary's and Gonzaga are in, barring epic collapses.

* The Cougars will have their hands full at San Francisco on Thursday, because the Dons (17-10) aren't the same Dons that played in the Marriott Center last month.

* Here's another preview of the game from a San Francisco newspaper.

* Tonight's a big night for former BYU star Jimmer Fredette. His Sacramento Kings are in New York to get a taste of Linsanity and take on the Knicks. Of course, Jimmer grew up in Glens Falls, N.Y., about a four-hour drive north of the Big Apple.

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Couple of comments from BYU players yesterday when I asked them about BYU getting such strong fan support on the road in WCC venues:

Anson Winder: "It is kind of like the same as last year, where we will go to different places and have more fans than they do. I mean, it is good. It gives us that home-court feeling. It helps us out a lot."

Brock Zylstra on whether the BYU crowds cause the home crowd to rise up a bit: "I would think so. I mean, I would think that if I was playing in the Marriott Center, and they had a whole bunch of fans here, that it would cause a little contention, or just the feeling that it wasn't your place anymore."

Noah Hartsock: "You know, it just brings you back to your high school days, but it is a lot of fun, because we have got a great BYU traveling crowd, and everybody comes and supports us. It has been a lot of fun, playing in those close environments where the fans are really close to you. It provides a little bit more energy, I think."

Hartsock on the West Coast Conference games and BYU fans there: "I really like it, especially when you run onto the court right before tipoff, and you hear a big cheering section. I think it just motivates us to play hard. Since we have got great fans out there, just play hard for them and hopefully they will keep coming to each game."



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