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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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BYU must avoid another lengthy scoring drought tonight

What is the BYU basketball team up to in New York City?

Mostly, the team is focused on tonight's 5 p.m. MDT matchup with Baylor (ESPN2), but there has been time for a few other activities, as this report posted on the Tribune's website details.

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The Cougars saw Madison Square Garden for the first time this morning in a shootaround at the basketball mecca..

At 24-11, BYU will try to win its 25th game for the seventh consecutive season tonight. Kansas is the only program that has a longer active streak of consecutive 25-plus win seasons.

If the Cougars win -- at that's a big if, considering that they are 4.5-point underdogs -- they will try for a third NIT title on Thursday night. Saint John's has the most NIT crowns, five, followed by Bradley (four) and Dayton (three).

Five months ago, the big stage proved to be too much for this team as the Cougars lost a pair of games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Invitational at the nearby Barclays Center to Florida State and Notre Dame. They are hoping that appearance got them ready for this one.

"I think we have played in some big environments this year, on some big stages. We have played at the Barclay's Center. And we played at EnergySolutions Arena. We played on the road at Gonzaga," Tyler Haws said. "I mean, we have played in some big environments. I think guys are kind of over that. We are hungry to get a few more wins, and we are excited to get back on the court."

As was noted in the article, BYU assistant coach Mark Pope spent a year with the Knicks when he played in the NBA. He was on injured reserve. But Pope knows the arena well, Haws said.

"He's talked a little bit about it, and he always tells us New York Knicks stories, and talks about NBA players. All the guys know the history of that place, and we are excited to play there."

In the 79-64 loss to Baylor back on Dec. 21, Haws picked up his second foul midway through the first half and went to the bench. He thought it was his first foul. The Cougars' fortunes plunged with their leading scorer on the bench.

"I think just continue to score and continue to keep our momentum that we had built the first 10 or 12 minutes of that game," he said, when asked what they can do better this time. "I feel like we kinda let the game slip away from us. We didn't score for like eight minutes, or something like that. So I got to stay out of foul trouble, and we have to score consistently for 40 minutes to be able to play with a team like Baylor."

Haws also said the Cougars have to rebound well.

"These guys are great athletes, so we got to get a body on somebody, and rebound the ball. And then continue to play fast and free. That's really been a key these last few games. Guys are playing loose. There is nothing to lose and so we got to keep playing that way."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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