Provo • BYU’s basketball team has attempted 617 free throws through 29 games this season and watched opponents attempt 464. The Cougars have been whistled for 495 fouls, while their opponents have racked up 541.
But in Saturday’s 75-62 loss to San Diego, the Cougars got in what coach Dave Rose called “heavy foul trouble” and committed 25 fouls, the most this season. Their previous high was 22 at Utah State. The Cougars shot 21 free throws, the Toreros 32.
Suffice to say, part of the focus at practice this week has been to avoid foul trouble as the Cougars play at Portland on Thursday and host No. 6 Gonzaga on Saturday. Rose said the problems that plagued BYU at Jenny Craig Pavilion are “really fixable,” and it starts with the mindset of attacking.
“That game the other night, it was so physical, and we weren’t the aggressor,” Rose said. “We were the responder. And I think that’s where all the fouls came. The aggressor got the advantage the other night. Sometimes the aggressor gets the disadvantage.”
Sophomore Yoeli Childs picked up two early fouls, had three at halftime and fouled out with around four minutes to play, having played just 22 minutes, a season-low.
“It just happens sometimes,” Childs said. “It was a tough game. A lot of us got in foul trouble. It is just how it is going to be sometimes, I guess. Personally, I felt like I was doing the same things I have been doing all year. But you just never know.”
When San Diego lost 74-58 at BYU on Jan. 20, the Toreros committed 24 fouls, the Cougars 16.
“There is at times frustration with players, of trying to figure out how the game is going to [be called]. But I think you can figure that out early in the game and then kind of adjust to it. … We never got any kind of rhythm going, and hopefully we can avoid that up there [in Portland].”
Childs will play
Childs twisted his knee during an awkward fall in overtime of the 75-70 win over Pepperdine last Thursday, but said Tuesday he is fine and refused to blame that for his struggles against USD.
“I honestly feel better now than even last year when I was playing fewer minutes, just because I know how to take care of my body,” he said. “I know how long the season is going to be. I know just the effects it has on your body. Guys who are playing a lot of minutes, we know how to take care of our bodies. We do it every day before practice, after practice. I feel good. I know the other guys do, too.”
Rose said Childs practiced hard both days — although he said the team as a whole didn’t practice well Monday and needed to be chided.
“I think [Childs’ knee] is solid, sound as far as the structure of it,” Rose said. “I think it is still something that is in his mind. Hopefully he can play through it.”
Portland presents problems
Rose said Portland is playing much differently than it did on Dec. 28 when BYU opened WCC play with a 69-45 win over the Pilots at the Marriott Center. It remains the fewest points Portland (10-19, 4-12) has scored this season.
“They have played a lot of really close games, and won a couple, and lost quite a few,” Rose said. “But almost all these [losses] have been close. … I think they are playing their very best right now, and hopefully we can get back to playing our very best here pretty quick.”
BYU at Portland, 9 p.m. MST