By MASON B. NIEDERHAUSER
No one likes leaving home, and the BYU men’s basketball team is no exception.
The road-weary Cougars will look to pick up their first WAC victory tonight with a road trip against the San Diego State University Aztecs. BYU will then move on to Hawaii for a Saturday matchup with the Rainbow Warriors.
Having lost their first six games on the road, the Cougars are counting on two wins to help restore confidence and gain momentum as conference play gets under way.
Michael Vranes, BYU’s starting point guard, said the team realizes the importance of this road trip.
“We need to win these two games,” Vranes said. “We haven’t won on the road yet, so there is that lack of confidence, but these are two games we know we can win.”
BYU head coach Steve Cleveland is taking this road trip one game at a time and hopes his players will do the same.
“We won’t focus on Hawaii until Thursday night after the San Diego State game,” Cleveland said in a news release.
“We didn’t even talk about Hawaii at practice this week,” Vranes said. “It’s been all San Diego State.”
Neither Hawaii (3-11) nor San Diego State (2-12) have won a WAC game, but each of their victories came while playing at home.
“In this conference, any team can beat another team at home,” Cleveland said.
San Diego State’s biggest threat, senior guard Matt Watts, will need to be contained if the Cougars are to be successful at Cox Arena. Averaging 14 points per game, the 6-foot-3-inch guard leads the Aztecs in scoring.
“Watts is back and he is very athletic,” Cleveland said.
Then the Cougars will face the Rainbows, who are always tough at home.
“Nobody has a homecourt advantage like Hawaii. A lot of good teams have gone to Hawaii and come away with a loss,” Cleveland said.
Hawaii’s top scorer, Marquette Alexander, is a 6-foot-8-inch 269 pound center who averages nearly 12 points a game. Alexander’s inside threat will be something BYU center Bret Jepson will have to pay attention to.