BYU hasn’t had much trouble beating Weber State over the past few seasons and seems primed to extend its winning streak over its in-state rival to eight with the Bulldogs missing their leading scorer.
The 23rd-ranked Cougars look to bounce back from their first loss Tuesday night and continue their dominance over Weber State, which is playing its first game against a Division I team without Damian Lillard.
After outscoring its first 10 opponents by an average of 21.8 points, BYU (10-1) was pushed around by a more physical UCLA team in an 86-79 loss in Saturday’s Wooden Classic.
The Cougars committed a season-high 19 turnovers, allowed a season high in points and their top three scorers - Jimmer Fredette, Jackson Emery and Brandon Davies - were all in foul trouble.
“That’s as physical as we’ve been guarded with size all year,” coach Dave Rose said.
The Cougars, concluding a stretch of playing eight straight games away from Provo, dropped seven spots in the poll Monday.
“It’s tough to handle,” said Fredette, averaging a team-high 23.8 points. “You don’t want to lose ever.”
A game against Weber State should help BYU get back on track.
The Cougars haven’t lost in the series since 2003, and the last three meetings haven’t been close, with BYU winning by an average of 20.7 points. Fredette led the Cougars to an 87-70 victory last season with 23 points and seven assists.
“They are the most talented team we have faced so far,” Weber State coach Randy Rahe said. “They really don’t have a weakness on either end of the floor. Jimmer Fredette is a tremendous player and teammate. He gets everyone going and gets everyone involved on the offensive end.”
Trying to knock off the Cougars has been hard enough for the Wildcats, but now Rahe’s team looks for the upset without Lillard, the reigning Big Sky Conference player of the year.
Lillard broke his right foot in Thursday’s 81-79 overtime loss to Tulsa and will miss the rest of the season. The junior guard, who was averaging 19.7 points, scored 23 against BYU last season.
The Wildcats (6-4) did a good job of stepping up without Lillard in a 94-54 win over NAIA school Southwest on Saturday. Freshman center Kyle Tresnak had a season-best 19 points off the bench, senior guard Lindsey Hughey added 17 and Weber State limited the Mustangs to 29.3 percent shooting.
“I was really proud of how we played together,” Rahe said. “Obviously losing Damian is a big loss, but I like the chemistry of this team and the way they have faced adversity this season. I expect them to step up and respond in a positive manner.”
While Weber State had no problems without Lillard versus Southwest, competing against a ranked opponent seems much more daunting. The Wildcats have lost four straight to Top 25 teams since defeating No. 22 Utah 79-77 on Dec. 9, 2000.