BYU has established itself as the team to beat in the Mountain West Conference while looking like it’s one of the nation’s elite.
A few more road wins could get the team even more attention.
The 14th-ranked Cougars visit San Diego State on Saturday, looking to match their best start and end the Aztecs’ 14-game home winning streak.
BYU (19-1, 4-0) won its 14th straight with an 81-66 win over Wyoming on Wednesday - tying the second-longest winning streak in school history. It hasn’t recorded 15 consecutive wins since a 17-game run in the 1987-88 season—also the last time the team began 20-1.
BYU had another strong defensive performance against Wyoming, outrebounding the Cowboys 40-33 - the eighth straight game it has outrebounded an opponent. The Cougars are holding conference foes to 58.8 points per game.
“There was a test lurking tonight and we responded to it,” coach Dave Rose said. “There’ll be a test lurking Saturday and hopefully we’ll respond to that.”
BYU, which hasn’t lost since a 71-61 defeat at Utah State on Dec. 2, is the only Mountain West team undefeated in conference play. No other team has fewer than two losses and it leads Division I in total victories.
“We have to focus on one game at a time, but this is a great group of guys who work hard as individuals and as a team,” said Tyler Haws, who scored a career-high 24 points. “It is definitely fun to be a part of something like this.”
Haws, who is averaging 16.3 points and shooting 60.6 percent over the last four games, and the Cougars could find themselves drawing even greater national attention if they can be just as successful in their two upcoming road games. BYU is 5-1 away from home, but has played only once conference game - a 67-49 victory over the Air Force - on the road.
Getting Jimmer Fredette back on track after a bout with strep throat and mononucleosis will be key to the success. The junior played 32 minutes against Wyoming and finished with 11 points, going 3 of 11 from the floor. He had six rebounds, three assists, two steals and only one turnover, however.
Fredette leads the conference with 19.4 points per game, and he scored 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting in his last visit to San Diego.
“Fredette is a big-time scorer for them,” Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. “He looks to score every time he touches it. … We have to make sure we don’t allow Fredette to get on a roll and get every show in the sweet spot for him. He is hard to guard.”
San Diego State (14-5, 3-2), part of a six-team logjam in second place, has not lost at home since squandering a 13-point halftime lead in a 69-59 defeat to BYU on Feb. 24.
The Aztecs have won their last two overall, including a 70-68 win at Utah on Tuesday. They held the Utes to 36.7-percent shooting.
Malcolm Thomas scored a career-high 23 points and added 13 rebounds while Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Aztecs have three players averaging more than 11.0 points, led by Thomas, who has reached double figures the last six games.
BYU won both regular season meetings in 2008-09, but San Diego State eliminated the Cougars in the conference tournament semifinals.