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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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Rare visit from a ranked nonconference opponent excites BYU basketball team

BYU hasn’t defeated a ranked opponent that wasn’t in its conference in a home basketball game since 1986, when it defeated Pittsburgh 93-73 at the Marriott Center. The Cougars will get another chance to end that futility skid on Wednesday night when they host No. 21 Iowa State (7:30 p.m., ESPNU) in Provo.

They had a chance two years ago, but fell 86-83 to No. 6 Baylor in 2011 in point guard Matt Carlino’s first game.

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Actually, getting high-profile opponents to visit the Marriott Center has proven difficult for BYU over the years, let alone defeat them. Lately, BYU has played Arizona, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State and others in Utah, but has had to play them at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.

So how did coach Dave Rose manage to persuade Iowa State to play in Provo?

Rose said Tuesday that ISU coach Fred Hoiberg was looking for a game on a specific date (Dec. 1, 2012) a few years ago and BYU was willing to fill that date in exchange for a visit to the Marriott Center from the Cyclones.

"I think it is a little bit early for both of us," Rose said, noting that it was originally scheduled to be played in December, but something came up and Hoiberg had to move it to Wednesday night.

"But it is a good time. The students are here, and hopefully it will be a good crowd," Rose said.

There was a long line of tents set up outside the Marriott Center when I left practice Tuesday night, so it appears the students are going to show up in force. Capacity at the on-campus arena is 20,951, and several players mentioned after practice that every seat should be filled.

"Yeah, for sure," said Tyler Haws, who will play after missing the last two games with a lower abdominal strain. "We have got a few of these games on the schedule, but you got to treat every game the same. You can’t overlook anyone. But we prepare the same for every team. So it should be another game for us that we can win."

Coach Dave Rose’s quick scouting report:

"They are really physical, experienced guys, but that is just one of those things they do really well, and is obviously stressed really well by Coach Hoiberg. They are a good 3-point shooting team, and they are really athletic and strong and physical.

It is kind of an interesting mix. Usually, strong, athletic, physical teams rely more on getting the ball into the block. But this team really shoots the ball well.

A lot of times, those long shots lead to long rebounds, so your guards have to really be active. That’s our emphasis.

I know our big guys will be physical and will battle around in there. But our guards, I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is played the way it needs to be played for us to win, that one of our guards isn’t our leading rebounder."

Rose and Haws, Kyle Collinsworth and Eric Mika all mentioned ISU’s 76-70 win over defending national champion Michigan on Sunday. Color the Cougars impressed.

"We are really excited for games like this, because we know if we don’t play well, we won’t win. So I love games like this, big games," Collinsworth said. " … It is obviously a big game, but for us it is the next game, so we just take it day by day, game by game, and this is our next game. So we have to go out and we have to win."

Collinsworth was asked what the Cougars have to do to improve to 5-0, a record that might move them close to the Top 25.

"We got to be very aggressive on the boards. We have to rebound very well on the offensive end and the defensive end, because they attack. When they have the ball and a shot goes up, they attack the boards. So we have to box out," he said, and later added: "We got to make sure we get out to their shooters and not let them get hot early in the game."

As I wrote in my game advance, Haws will play, but is not sure how effective he will be because he’s still not 100 percent recovered from the lower abdominal strain suffered against Stanford.

"I hate sitting out. I hate being on the sidelines. It is not fun," Haws said. "But I was proud of our guys. Lots of guys stepped up and played well. So two good wins, and stuff we can build on for sure."

If practicing Tuesday showed him anything, it is that it gets better when he plays.

"I hope it loosens up. It did today. It loosened up a lot," he said.

Haws was on the court last year when the Cyclones buried the Cougars by 21 points in Ames.

What went wrong?

On them being a different team:

"Probably our consistency scoring and rebounding wasn’t there," he said. "We didn’t consistently score for 40 minutes, so the game kinda got away from us. So we have to rebound, and we have to consistently score for 40 minutes."

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