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Cougars looking to prove themselves without Collinsworth
Release Date: 03/19/2014
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by Rob Moseley

MILWAUKEE — The week since all-West Coast Conference point guard Kyle Collinsworth suffered a torn ACL in the WCC Tournament has been a roller coaster for Brigham Young.

When the Cougars — who face Oregon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday (12:10 p.m. PT, TruTV) — returned to practice, the team initially was "an emotional wreck," according to BYU coach Dave Rose.

"Everybody tried to go through the motions and play hard," Rose said Wednesday. "The feel in the gym was basically everybody feeling sorry for Kyle, or maybe sorry for themselves.

"But the fact we've been able to have three or four practices, and then the shot of adrenaline Sunday of being in the tournament, being in a second-round game instead of a first-round game … the last couple practices have been great. We've been way more enthusiastic."

Collinsworth, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, averaged 14.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists, having started all 34 games to this point for the Cougars (23-11). He had 15 points, five rebounds and eight assists in BYU's 100-96 overtime loss to the Ducks at Matthew Knight Arena in December.

In Collinsworth's absence, BYU figures to put the ball into the hands of a player familiar to the point guard spot, and to Oregon. Junior guard Matt Carlino, a transfer from UCLA, began this season as BYU's starter at the point, was the starting two-guard against the Ducks and has been a sixth man since.

"This Oregon team is so long and they're so athletic, they're just really quick to everything," Rose said. "Matty's going to have to do a really good job of finding our guys at the right time."

Rose said reserve guards Skyler Halford and Frank Bartley IV could get more minutes in the rotation with Collinsworth out. Backup forward Josh Sharp could be called upon to fill some of the void on the glass; though BYU's point guard, Collinsworth was also the team's leading rebounder.

"We're losing so much without having Kyle," two-guard Anson Winder said. "We'll have to make up for this rebounding, points and assists. It just means everybody has to be more aggressive and step up to the challenge."

Winder said the Cougars may rely more on the three-point shot in the absence of Collinsworth. BYU shot .359 from behind the arc in the regular season overall, and .386 in WCC play.

The three-point shot also will be a focus for BYU defensively.

"Coming in, we know their guards score a lot of their points, along with their three man, Mike Moser," Winder said. "We know we're going to have to guard them and guard the three-point line."

The Cougars have the benefit of first-hand knowledge of the Ducks thanks to the December meeting in Eugene (and vice versa, obviously). Rose said the rematch by the tournament selection committee was "a little surprising" but could be "kind of beneficial" in some ways.

"What they did to us in the last few minutes of regulation and into overtime is what they've done the last 10 or 12 games in the Pac-12," Rose said. "They've really dominated the glass, shot the ball at a great percentage — especially from the three-point line — and then this Johnathan Loyd has done a terrific job of running the team.

"Controlling his penetration, that'll be a big key for us. Control his penetration, and his ability to get the ball to their scorers."

BYU's leading scorer, guard Tyler Haws, said the experience earlier this season against Oregon will be a benefit. Haws scored 32 points on 13-of-21 shooting that night.

"We know we can play with them," Haws said. "We know their guys, we know the stuff they run. So it should give us confidence that we can go out and win a basketball game."

The loss of Collinsworth, combined with the perception in some circles BYU was overseeded — or even unworthy of a tournament berth altogether — seems to have the Cougars entering Thursday with a healthy chip on their shoulder.

"We don't pay attention a lot to what people say about us," Haws said. "But we're pretty confident we should be in the tournament, and we've got to go out and prove it."

But Rose also wants to see his team play within itself, and to get consistent production, from his starters and especially off the bench.

"What you want is just for your guys to play their best," Rose said. "If we do that, and we manage the personnel and these guys are playing their best basketball, then we'll maybe be able to compensate for the loss of Kyle.

"If we get into a different situation and just rely on five guys — those five starters — then it could be really tough for us."

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