Cougars Talk Rivalry

Coming off of their first loss in nearly two months, the Cougars are ready to take the court again and return to their winning ways. It certainly doesn't hurt either that the next game is against the rival Utah Utes. Find out what Coach Rose, Jackson Emery and Chris Miles had to say about Saturday's rivalry showdown, among other matters.

Coach Rose

-On what he expects coming off of the first loss in a long time: "We hope that we can get back on track and make enough plays to win games. I thought we played well enough to win, and New Mexico played a little bit better down the stretch. So we'll regroup, and we've got a big one on Saturday. I mean, they just keep coming, but I think our guys are excited to get going."

-On whether one can throw out BYU's and Utah's records when they play: "Well I think so. I've been involved in quite a few of these games, and it's an exciting game. You're gonna get two teams that are playing really hard, and both teams are really competitive."

-On what his reaction is to the students camping outside the Marriott Center: "I hope they're warm, you know, but I think that's great that there's that much excitement for the first eight or nine, ten rows in the student section. But I don't know if I'd do that [laughter]."

-On whether he thinks the BYU-Utah rivalry has changed much: "Well I think it's been really exciting the last few years. I know when we first got here it was kind of one-sided and that was tough, but we got them here a couple times during that stretch. But it's a great rivalry, one of the best in the country. I think it's somewhere in the 260s, 250 range as far as games being played, and it's pretty even."

-On Jackson Emery's shooting slump: "Well I think that he shot the ball so well in the month of December, and it's created a lot of attention for him, and he's got some really good defenders on him and it's kind of sped him up a little bit. But he's a really good player. We have a lot of confidence in him, and he makes a lot of plays for us out there besides just making shots." Though Emery's shooting percentage cooled down later in the season last year as well, Rose said there was no concern about Emery wearing out. Rather, he said, it's just an issue of him rushing his shots instead of shooting at the right pace.

-On what it's like to practice after coming off of a loss: "Well, it's different. We haven't had a practice like this in eight weeks, and the guys are down a little bit, so you get them in the team room and you try to address everything that happened. And then when you walk out on the floor, you let it go, and then you look forward for what's next, and I thought our guys did a good job of that [Thursday]."

-On what concerns him most about facing Utah: "Well, this is a really good defensive team. They guard the basket as well as anybody in our league, they guard the three-point line, they're tough, they're really assignment-sound in how they guard and they're good in transition. I mean, it's a good basketball team. You just have to look through their schedule and see the teams that they've beat. They've beat some really good teams."

-On whether he will have to change anything given what a shot-blocking presence David Foster presents in the middle for Utah: "Well, the thing is … if you go to the rim you gotta go right at him. That's like with any shot blocker, but he's proven to be able to be aggressive at the rim, block shots, stay out of foul trouble. So we'll just see what opportunities present themselves, and then hopefully our guys are creative enough that they can make plays at the rim."

Jackson Emery

-On the mood of the team following the loss to UNM: "You know, most of all, you just can't win them all. And you know, you take that, and obviously we would have liked to have won. But you just learn from it and you move on, and we're still in first place in the Mountain West Conference and we gotta take care of the next game, and that's against Utah."

-On his current shooting slump: "Shots aren't falling right now, but I'm planning for Saturday [to get them] starting to fall."

-On whether it matters that Utah is just 10-10 coming into the rivalry game: "I don't think so. I mean, you can see any given year that whatever the record is or whoever they've played, it's always a great game. And you know, Utah's a good team. They've beaten Illinois, they won at UNLV, they won at LSU, and, you know, they've struggled a little bit but they're really talented."

-On how the team's attitude after the UNM loss compared to its attitude after the USU loss: "You know, I think maybe after the Utah State game we were a little more depressed. I mean, any time you lose you're not happy, but I thought [Thursday] we came back a little more motivated, a little more focused, and we had a great practice for the most part."

Chris Miles

-"This one against Utah is really important because they're a team that wants to beat us more than anybody in the country that plays us, and we have a long history with them, they're a really good squad and they're well coached and they can play really tough. They're coming off of a loss, and so they're gonna be ready to play, so it's a huge one for us."

-"It's different than every game that you play in, because only so many teams have a rivalry game, and for our two programs in particular it's a huge rivalry."

-On how the team has reacted to the UNM loss: "I think it's easy for teams to start putting pressure on themselves when they haven't lost in a long time, and so I think in some ways it's probably relieved a little bit of pressure. A couple of us had individual poor shooting nights, and so I think that there's kinda pressure off in the sense that, ‘Okay, well I had a bad game, and now I just gotta go lay it out and play.'"

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