Provo • For streaking BYU, the two games this week against lesser opponents to end its non-conference schedule look like the perfect opportunity for a letdown.
The Cougars (9-2), who have won six straight and are coming off an emotional 77-65 win over rival Utah, host Idaho State on Thursday night and Texas Southern on Saturday night at the Marriott Center. Tipoff for both games is at 7 p.m.
What’s more, the players finished taking final exams on Wednesday. But junior center Luke Worthington doesn’t sound concerned.
“I think we have done a good job so far in practice of clearing our minds when we get out on the court,” Worthington said after practice Wednesday. “It is just a matter of focusing when you need to focus. And when we play the games I have no doubt that we will be ready to go, that … even through the mental stress of finals or an emotional win like that we can bounce back pretty quickly.”
Fellow big man Yoeli Childs concurred, saying, “I was impressed to see how hard guys worked after the Utah game.”
However, BYU coach Dave Rose is worried.
“As coaches, that’s kinda what we do,” he said. “We are concerned. … No one is immune from it. It happens. You hope that your guys are good enough with each other that they can hold each other accountable to the fact that there is a certain way you have to play, and you have to execute, in order to be successful.”
Childs says he will be ready after having to leave the Utah game twice due to cramping.
“Yeah, we are good,” he said. “It was a one-time thing. I don’t really know what happened. It hurt, but it was a short-term thing.”
Rose called the cramping “really strange” because the 6-foot-8 Childs had never dealt with anything like that before.
“And he gave it a go,” Rose said. “He wanted to get back, which [for a coach], when you see those kinds of things, you just know that you’ve got yourself a pretty special guy.”
Idaho State (4-5) lost its first five games, but has won four straight and is coming off an 86-62 blowout of Youngstown State in Pocatello. The Bengals feature former Wasatch Academy guard Geno Luzcando, former Utah Valley players Hayes Garrity and Jared Stutzman and Cedar High’s Erik Nakken.
“I know Idaho State can really shoot the ball,” Rose said.
The Cougars are still thin inside, with forwards Dalton Nixon (foot), Ryan Andrus (knee) and Braiden Shaw (ankle) still out with injuries. All three were at practice Wednesday, but none are expected to play this week against ISU or Texas Southern.
“I am hoping we will get at least two of these guys back here the next couple of weeks,” Rose said.
BYU vs. Idaho State
At the Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff: 7 p.m.
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, Sirius XM 143
Records: BYU 9-2, Idaho State 4-5
Series history: BYU leads 33-6
Last meeting: BYU 84, Idaho State 58 (Dec. 20, 2016)
About the Bengals: Former SUU coach Bill Evans is in his sixth year at the helm and is 50-111 at ISU. … They have lost their last eight games against BYU and haven’t downed the Cougars since 1977. … Utah Valley transfer Jared Stutzman leads them in scoring with a 13.7 average, while 7-footer Novak Topalovic averages 5.7 rebounds per game.
About the Cougars: Junior guard Elijah Bryant earned WCC Player of the Week honors after scoring 29 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the 77-65 win over Utah last Saturday. … They have held opponents to fewer than 70 points in six straight games, all victories. … They have shot better than 50 percent from the field in four of their past five games.