Provo • BYU coach Dave Rose said his team is determined to be “relevant” in the national college basketball picture this season after his Cougars defeated Utah 77-65 at the Marriott Center last Saturday to snap the Utes’ three-game winning streak in the series.
The 9-2 Cougars have won six straight and are moving in the right direction, but there’s still a long ways to go.
For instance, BYU is nowhere to be found in ESPN’s Bracketology predictions for the 68-team NCAA Tournament, not even on the proverbial bubble. Utah (7-3) is among Joe Lunardi’s First Four Out.
The Cougars have moved up to 64 in the Ken Pomeroy ratings, the highest they have been rated by the Salt Lake City resident on his website kenpom.com. Utah is ranked 60th.
Utah is 61st and BYU is 62nd in the Jeff Sagarin Ratings published by USA Today.
The Cougars have held six straight opponents to fewer than 70 points in building their winning streak.
“Of all the springs and summers and falls I have been here with my team, this was as good as it has been as far as commitment to be a tougher group, especially on the defensive end,” Rose said.
Unofficial state champs
With apologies to Southern Utah, which was 6-4 heading into Tuesday night’s game at Iowa and doesn’t play BYU this season, the Cougars are calling themselves state champs after going 4-0 against Utah Valley, Utah State, Weber State and Utah over the past three weeks.
“Quite a run,” Rose said. “I know the victories are what makes it kinda fun, you know, but the preparation is kinda agonizing for instate games for coaches. But I know our players love it. I know our fans love it. I am just happy for those guys, to be able to get that done.”
SUU hasn’t met a fellow Utah team yet but will play Weber State twice in Big Sky Conference play — Jan. 6 in Ogden and Feb. 1 in Cedar City.
Rose is 40-10 against instate schools during his 13 seasons as BYU’s coach.
Elijah Bryant honored
It took six weeks, but a BYU player finally earned WCC Player of the Week honors Monday when Cougars wing Elijah Bryant was cited for his performance against Utah. Bryant, a transfer from Elon University, scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds and had four assists in the 77-65 win over the Utes.
Bryant, a junior from Gwinnett, Ga., was the WCC Player of the Week once last year.
“I have adjusted to how my body is feeling right now,” said Bryant, who was 5 of 7 from 3-point range. “I am getting back into rhythm with my [surgically repaired] knee. Some nights it is feeling good and some nights it is feeling not [good], so I am trying to hone my other skills so I can still help my team.”
Collinsworth called up
Former BYU star Kyle Collinsworth signed a two-way contract with the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, and Dallas waived former Utah Jazzman Jeff Withey in the process. Collinsworth has spent the past two seasons with the Mavericks’ G League affiliate, the Texas Legends, and was averaging 8.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals in 30.1 minutes per game in 54 career G League games.
IDAHO STATE AT BYU
When • 7 p.m. Thursday
TV • BYUtv