MALIBU, Calif. — BYU coach Dave Rose is looking for consistency when the Cougars play Pepperdine on Monday in the second game of their third campaign in the West Coast Conference.
The Waves (8-5, 1-0) host BYU at 8 p.m. MST in Firestone Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on TWC and Root Sports.
The Cougars (8-6, 0-1) looked capable of knocking off undefeated and ranked opponents in posting double-digit leads over Oregon, Wichita State and Iowa State, but they broke down defensively and sputtered offensively at Utah and Loyola Marymount. After fall at LMU, Rose has lost three in a row for the first time in his BYU head coaching career.
That's partially the result of scheduling. But it's also the result of inconsistency and poor defense.
"To have a team that's really successful you have to be able to count on certain guys to do certain things every night,” said Rose.
“That's what we're lacking right now. We don't really know what we can count on going through the lineup and the roster. So that will be our challenge to find what we know we have and what we can count on and hopefully be consistent with that."
In the loss to LMU, the Cougars’ two big guns, juniors Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino, struggled offensively. They combined for 8-of-28 shooting, neither one making more than four buckets.
One player who has emerged despite little playing time is junior college All-American guard Skyler Halford. He averages just 12 minutes a game but is shooting 57 percent from the field, 46 percent from beyond the arc and 77 percent from the line with an 8-point-per-game average.
"I just try to bring it every day at practice,” said Halford. “We've had enough time to let these losses soak in and we need to come out a little better. We need to come out with a little more fire and a little more edge. That's the bottom line. We've got to come together as a team and we've just got play. We've got to play extremely hard at a high level."
Pepperdine features a trio of players averaging in double figures. They include 6-6 forward Stacy Davis (15. 8 ppg), 6-9 Brendan Lane (15.2 ppg) and 5-10 point guard Jeremy Major (11.5 ppg).
In Saturday’s opening WCC loss at Loyola Marymount, the Cougars learned quickly that their league brothers are gunning for them. Despite an overwhelming pro-BYU crowd, the Cougars could not muster any firepower against a Lion squad that took away the fast break by sending three men back on defense as fast as possible.
"Everybody said how difficult our schedule was in the preseason," Rose said. "The bottom line is we told the guys what's really hard is what we're about to jump into here. It's way more difficult than the games we just played. These league games everybody scouts you; everybody knows you. They know your tendencies. They know how you want to play and they try to make you play a different way."
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at email@example.com.