Intensity builds as BYU prepares to take on Gonzaga at home

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BYU and Gonzaga go head to head for the final time this season before the conference tournament, a game the Cougars prepare to win to virtually guarantee their spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cougars’ last meeting against Gonzaga ended up in a loss after they failed to close a three point gap coming into the second half. They lost any chance they had in the last minutes of the game and eventually fell 84-69. This time around, the team has prepared itself more diligently and intend on going into the game with a stronger offense and a much more intimidating defense in order to overcome its opponent.

Tyler Haws, who is ranked fourth in the nation in scoring at 24.1 points per game, said the Cougars need to be more consistent on both sides of the ball to come out with a victory.

Tyler Haws attempts a jump shot against Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos during the game earlier this season. Gonzaga won 84-69. Photo courtesy AP Photo/Young Kwak.
Tyler Haws attempts a jump shot against Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos during the game earlier this season. Gonzaga won 84-69. Photo courtesy AP Photo/Young Kwak.

“We have to consistently score for 40 minutes and we have to lock in and guard the three point line a lot better than we did at their place,” Haws said. “I think that kind of got away from us.”

Haws led the team in stats in their last game against Saint Mary’s, a shootout that at one point left the Cougars at a 14-point deficit. With 18 points, four assists and three steals, Haws made a number of plays, with the help of Kyle Collinsworth and Anson Winder, the Cougars eventually came out on top.

Going into this Gonzaga matchup, the Cougars are hoping to find and execute the same chemistry they saw when they rallied against Saint Mary’s and believe it will produce them with a win.

“Our guys mentally and emotionally really want the win.” head coach Dave Rose said. “We will have to see how they respond physically, that’s the deal. Sometimes your guys are way too high emotionally and they have a hard time settling into the game, but I like the resiliency and the resolve of our group. There are times I would like us to execute a whole lot better.”

Injury can be a possible factor working against BYU after Collinsworth landed awkwardly on his right leg after attempting to run in a long rebound this past weekend. After missing a few practices in order to recover, he returned Wednesday afternoon for a full practice and focused his mindset on preparing for Gonzaga’s arrival.

“I feel good. I feel good enough to play, and that’s all that counts.” Collinsworth said.

Haws said Collinsworth’s tenacity and resolve impressed him and shows a desire to help out the team in whichever way he can.

“Kyle kind of surprised me (at practice),” Haws said. “It seems like the knee is doing really well. He’ll be ready to go.”

BYU has lost five consecutive games to Gonzaga, a fact not taken lightly by the team or the coaching staff. They believe they will execute to produce a much different outcome in this coming game, happy to take all the home court advantage they can get.

“We don’t have any pressure on us. We’re just going out there trying to win a basketball game,” Haws said. “We love playing in front of our home crowd, and our guys feed off the energy and are a lot more comfortable at home.”

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