A little bit of troubling news for Cougar fans came out of BYU's basketball practice on Tuesday night as the Cougars went through some last-minute preparations for Wednesday night's game at the Marriott Center against St. Mary's.
Coach Dave Rose said that starting point guard Matt Carlino did not practice much, if at all, because of back pain.
"Matt is having some back spasms, upper back spasms. It kinda happened this morning. Came to school and was fine, and then it kinda locked up on him. So he has been going through treatments today," Rose said.
I asked the coach if Carlino has had back problems all season.
"He has had that at times, but not this year," Rose said. "So this is a new thing for him this year."
Whether Carlino plays or not will probably be a game-time decision, but certainly the Cougars' chances of getting revenge for two losses last year go way down if the red-hot Carlino is not on the floor.
Senior Brandon Davies said revenge is certainly on their minds.
"Definitely," he said. "We are more fired up for this game than we have been all year in any other game. Plus, it is the next game in the way in the battle to win this league. This is the most important game of our season right now."
Davies said his sprained right ankle is not a factor anymore and there's a "night and day difference" between how it feels now and how it felt after the Virginia Tech game.
Despite the frigid temperatures in Provo and throughout the state, many BYU students are camped out outside the Marriott Center doors, hoping to be the first ones in to the arena to get the best seats in the student section.
"We've got the best fans in the world," said Davies, marveling at the perserverance. He said he hates the cold just walking from class to class, "and they are sleeping in it."
Rose will be going for his 200th win, but he mostly downplayed that aspect of the contest when asked about it Tuesday.
"I hope it comes quickly," he said. "But when people ask me questions about things like that, I think about our players, the guys who have been here, and the coaches who have coached with us. I have been really fortunate to have great players and coaches working with me."
What kind of game will it be?
"This will be a really competitive game. Saint Mary's is a team that expects to go on the road and win," Rose said.
Tyler Haws also spent a lot of time talking to reporters after practice. Although he wasn't here last year, he has learned about SMC's sweep of the Cougars.
"I think that game last year still is kind of lingering around with us. We've got a lot to prove, and we are a different team. It is going to be a battle tomorrow," Haws said.
BYU's leading scorer said SMC's toughness is apparent on film.
"They are going to keep battling and keep coming at you the whole game. [Matthew] Dellavedova is a great guy on pick-and-roll, and can shoot the ball. They are just tough guys. We got to be ready to play."
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