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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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Cougars' big concern after big loss: condition of Collinsworth's knee

It appeared that Kyle Collinsworth couldn’t stand to watch.

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In the closing moments of the Cougars’ 75-64 loss to Gonzaga on Tuesday night in the WCC championship game, Collinsworth sat at the end of the BYU bench at an odd angle, looking away from the court, because of the position of his right knee and the huge ice pack attached to it.

If the 6-foot-6 guard can’t play in BYU’s next game — and all indications are that he won’t — the Cougars will have suffered a double-whammy in Las Vegas, losing both the game and their second-leading scorer and perhaps best all-around player.

Coach Dave Rose offered few details on Collinsworth’s condition in his postgame news conference, but it was so serious that Collinsworth’s parents were called into the locker room to be with their son after the injury.

"The doctors right now are calling it an injured knee," Rose said. "We will have an MRI [Wednesday] to see the extent. He’s in a lot of pain and wasn’t able to return."

Oddly, the Cougars played better after Collinsworth left the game, cutting a 20-point deficit to eight with about 2 1/2 minutes to play. But they will sorely miss the sophomore in their next postseason game, be it the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

How will the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee see BYU if it knows the ever-versatile Collinsworth can’t play? How does that change the picture? Certainly, there’s precedent for giving teams less favorable seeding in the big dance when they’ve lost a star late in the season. Collinsworth averages 14 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

"It was tough to see him go down, but our guys just stayed in it and came together and we said, ‘let’s do it for him,’" Haws said. "We tried to claw our way back into it. You have to give Gonzaga a lot of credit. They made the plays they needed to [make] to win the game."

Whether or not BYU will get an at-large bid now that Gonzaga has secured the automatic bid was a big topic of discussion in BYU’s session from the podium with reporters after the loss.

Rose pretty much avoided the question twice on Tuesday night.

"I am just really proud of our team," he said, when asked if the Cougars had done enough, and how the Collinsworth injury might impact their resume. "This group has battled through a very difficult non-conference schedule. We had a couple games that we had a chance to win and didn’t get them. The guys responded and fought back. We didn’t get off to the best start in league play, but we finished really strong. The last three or four weeks, we’ve been as good as any team around as far as being up to the challenge and up to the task. That’s how I personally feel about our team. We will see what happens."

Tyler Haws was more forthright when asked if BYU has done enough to make the tournament, with its 23-11 record, late-season spurt and difficult non-conference schedule.

"I think so," Haws said. "I think we should find ourselves in that tournament. This has been a challenging season, but I feel like our guys have come together, and I feel like we have done enough to get in."

Gonzaga coach Mark Few said BYU belongs. And he said it rather adamantly.

"Without a doubt. It’s how hard they play, how skilled they are," Few said. "Nobody attacks offensively the way BYU does. They come at you and if you are not ready, they can run at you."

Few said he believes BYU played "the toughest non-conference schedule in the country, when you take into account where they played those games at."

The Zags’ coach said he watched several of those games in November and December.

"They came down to a possession or two — the Iowa State game, the UMass game, Oregon. They’re even with those teams. I watched them play even and they should’ve won. So there’s not a question in my mind. They’re an NCAA Tournament team."

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