BYU-South Florida Preview
BYU might be undefeated, but coach Dave Rose believes his team must continue to improve if they want a successful weekend in Texas.
The No. 23 Cougars hope to ease their coach's concern with a solid effort against South Florida on Friday night in the semifinals of the South Padre Island Invitational.
BYU (4-0) has been seriously tested once while winning its first four games by an average of 33.0 points - a 78-72 victory over Utah State on Nov. 17. The Cougars rolled to an 86-36 victory over Mississippi Valley State in the second round of this event Tuesday, but Rose wasn't completely satisfied.
Though the Cougars held the Delta Devils to 25.0 percent shooting and forced 25 turnovers, they led just 6-5 and 12-7 before All-American Jimmer Fredette hit a 3-pointer to get them rolling.
BYU shot 38.9 percent, including 8 for 26 from 3-point range. Fredette, averaging 23.3 points, finished with a season-low 16 and made 7 of 16 shots overall and 2 of 8 3-pointers.
Rose knows that kind of offensive effort might not be good enough to beat a team from a major-conference like South Florida. Another challenge from either Texas Tech or Saint Mary's awaits Saturday.
"We'll probably have a real tough test against South Florida," Rose said.
His players seem more focused on trying to avoid another slow start as the Cougars begin an eight-game stretch away from home.
"When we go on the road, we can't have slow starts,'' said guard Jackson Emery, who had 15 points, six rebounds and five steals Tuesday.
If there's one area Rose and the Cougars can be happy with, it's on the defensive end where they've held opponents to 56.0 points per game on 35.3 percent shooting.
Mississippi Valley State's 10 first-half points matched a BYU record for fewest ever in a half.
The Cougars have outrebounded all four opponents, and recorded 57 boards in each of their last two contests.
"Defensively you can be really, really good, but you've got to finish plays,'' Rose said. "I've really been impressed with our ability to rebound. This team has shown what it's capable."
BYU dominated the glass Tuesday with 6-foot-9 sophomore Chris Collinsworth on the bench for all but six minutes with a sprained ankle. It's uncertain if Collinsworth (6.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) will be available when the Cougars face South Florida for the first time.
The Bulls (3-2), who return three starters from last season's 20-13 squad, beat Georgia Southern and Liberty in the first two rounds of this event.
South Florida hopes to get more out of leading scorer Augustus Gilchrist (11.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg) after foul trouble limited him to three points - all from the free-throw line - in 23 minutes of a 60-43 win over Liberty on Tuesday.
Averaging a team-leading 4.0 assists, Anthony Crater could miss his second straight contest with an ankle injury. If the junior can't play, sophomore Mike Burwell could make his second consecutive start after scoring his first 15 points of the season versus Liberty.