BYU basketball enters WCC tournament with back against the wall

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The BYU men’s basketball team’s run to be an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament begins on Friday night in the WCC quarterfinals.

BYU finished third in the WCC standings behind the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs and the St. Mary’s Gaels, who both get a bye until the semifinals.

The Cougars enter the tournament with a chip on their shoulder, and they know the importance of having a sense of urgency to win the conference tournament. The last time BYU won a conference tournament was in 2001.

Tyler Haws goes for a layup against Santa Clara. The Cougars a (Photo by Whitnie Soelberg)
Tyler Haws goes for a layup against Santa Clara. The Cougars enter the WCC tournament as the No. 3 seed. (Photo by Whitnie Soelberg)

“I think that the most important thing, any time you get into a tournament, is that you have to understand the urgency of the game and know that the number-one goal is to advance, and take each game one at a time and not get too much ahead of yourself,” BYU coach Dave Rose said.

WCC scoring leader Tyler Haws said everyone’s on edge and will be ready to come out fighting to win three games.

“I feel like at times during the year we played with a sense of urgency and our team has been really good,” Haws said. “You come into a season expecting to win, and we’ve lost some games I feel like we should’ve won, but you can’t do anything about that now. You’ve just got to keep looking forward. We’ve got three games this weekend.”

Brandon Davies, who has been battling foul trouble recently, said he needs to be prepared mentally and not be overly aggressive. He believes he and his teammates have the confidence in each other to come out of the WCC as champions despite being overlooked by others.

Davies also said having their backs against the wall gives them more motivation.

“It’s not going to be easy by any means, but we’re all willing to make the sacrifice and do everything we need to do,” Davies said. “We have a job to do, and if that takes some of the fun out of it, then that’s what it’s going to take.”

The Cougars aren’t looking past any teams and are staying focused to beat Thursday’s winner of the San Diego vs. Pepperdine game.

“We know exactly what we have to do, and we’re going to go out swinging,” Davies said.

Rose said his team will need more than a few guys to play well, but the team will play its best basketball of the season.

“This is an important time for everyone on our roster, for our seniors, because it’s the last opportunity they’ll get, but for the younger guys, it’s experience,” Rose said. “The important thing is to play with one agenda that everyone is playing on the same page just trying to win the game and try and advance. We know we’ve got a real challenge here.”

The WCC quarterfinals against San Diego or Pepperdine will tip off at 8:30 p.m PST at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU and KSL radio.

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