Provo • BYU coach Dave Rose hasn’t been prone to shake up his starting lineup this season or in past years, but he did so Thursday night as the Cougars hosted Pepperdine.
After going with the same starting lineup for 13 straight games, Rose started sophomore guard Zac Seljaas in place of junior center Luke Worthington.
“We want to spread the floor a little bit,” Rose told KSL Radio in his pregame interview. “Let’s see if we can open up spots for our guards. … and get [Yoeli Childs] down in there, where he’s really good.”
The other starters were Jahshire Hardnett, TJ Haws and Elijah Bryant. Seljaas started the first four games of the season before Hardnett joined the starting lineup.
Worthington, who had started all 17 games before Thursday, was playing some of his best basketball the past two games. He scored 18 points and had four blocks and six rebounds last week as the Cougars defeated San Francisco and lost to Pacific.
“I think Luke has had a fabulous year,” assistant coach Heath Schroyer said Wednesday. “And you talk about the stats, and the stats are really important. But the things Luke brings to the locker room [are big]. He is our best pick and roll defender. He is our best communicator defensively. He is like a strong safety or a middle linebacker, communicating defensively.”
Getting Haws hot
Haws entered Thursday’s game in one of the worst slumps of his career. The Lone Peak High product was sensational in BYU’s 74-68 win over Weber State on Dec. 9, but has struggled since.
Through the first four WCC games, he was 10 of 33 from the field and averaging 7.3 points per game, well below his season numbers of 10.9 points and 37 percent shooting.
“I think he is taking good shots,” Schroyer said. “I think he is getting some good looks. But again, I think when you look at TJ this year, compared to last year, he is a better basketball player this year than he was last year. I mean, his assist-to-turnover ratio is off the charts. His plus-minus ratio is off the charts. He is a better defender. he is a better communicator.
“He is struggling at times to knock down a shot or two, but TJ is getting better,” Schroyer continued. “I have all the confidence in the world that before it is all said and done he is going to be knocking down shots like he always has.”
Change at the top in WCC
With West Coast Conference commissioner Lynn Holzman having left for a post with the NCAA, the league announced earlier this week that Connie Hurlbut will be the interim commissioner while a national search is conducted to find Holzman’s replacement.
Holzman is the new vice president of women’s basketball at the NCAA. Hurlbut was previously executive director of the Patriot League and has also worked for the WAC, WNBA and Ivy League.
BYU honored LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson before the game. … After scoring one point in the first half last Saturday against Pacific, Childs had 14 points in the opening half Thursday, including three dunks.