Cougars look to come back strong after loss

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After losing to No. 11-ranked Wisconsin, the BYU men’s basketball team returns to the court tonight to take on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. The game, dubbed as the Lumberjack Classic, will be played on a neutral court in Prescott, Ariz., 87 miles from the Northern Arizona campus in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Facing another game away from home, Cougar coach Dave Rose wants the team to move on from the loss to Wisconsin and improve on the things that caused defeat.

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Wisconsin's Ben Brust left, defends as BYU's Damarcus Harrison (24) drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011, in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
“The most important thing is to try and get better, to try and learn from the things that caused us to lose,” he said. “I think their mental preparation, as far as their desire to win, is pretty sound. As far as things we can address as a coaching staff to them, I think we’ve done that and now it’s up to them to perform.”

A major area of concern for the Cougars in their previous game was the lack of aggressiveness on defensive rebounding. While watching film of Northern Arizona, Rose noticed its ability to attack the glass and rebound the basketball. He hopes his team will take the challenge from the Lumberjacks and address this concern during tonight’s game.

“We have some real issues,” Rose said. “We need our guards to get more involved. Our big guys get tied up with the big players and it’s hard to get a body on somebody and go get the ball. Most teams will send a guard or two back to stop some kind of offensive attack, so those guards are free and they need to get down in there and get more involved in rebounding.”

Another task for the BYU guards will be containing Northern Arizona’s point guard, Stallon Saldivar. Saldivar is a native of Salt Lake City and attended Judge Memorial High School, leading the team to the 3A state championship in 2008. Last season, Saldivar led the Big Sky Conference in assists and has continued to lead the Lumberjacks this season.

Playing against BYU is something Saldivar has been looking forward to since he saw the teams were slated to play each other.

“I am excited to play them,” he said in news a release. “Utah and BYU have always been the top tier schools of Utah. They have been a big powerhouse and I grew up watching them and [I’ve] seen some pretty good players come through there … and I am excited to see how we do against them.”

One of the players with the assignment of stopping Saldivar, junior guard Brock Zylstra, said the team feels prepared to do whatever they need to do to get back on track.

“I think everybody’s motivated,” he said. “We had a tough loss, but I think everybody is focused and ready to play. We’re just motivated to get back to playing the way we play.”

Tipoff for the game is at 7 p.m. and can can be viewed on BYUtv or heard on KSL news radio.

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