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The BYU hoopsters are getting hot, late; not only late in the season as they head into the tournament, but late in games as well due to some changes to the starting lineup.

It was two weeks ago when the Cougars traveled to St. Mary's and BYU Big Man, Eric Mika, took a seat after he chalked up his second foul less than two minutes into the game. BYU Head Coach Dave Rose said he'd been thinking of making some changes to the starting lineup for a couple weeks, but it was that moment that solidified his decision. Coach Rose says he hoped that having Eric come off the bench would give his team an advantage similar to the same move he made with Matt Carlino earlier this season. "We get a lot of juice coming off the bench which I think is a real, you know, that five-seven mark into the first half when you're bringing in a couple guys that can really give you some athleticism and a real offensive and defensive punch," Rose said.

Since losing his starting spot, Mika has been able to come into the game and add some immediate aggression. With wins against Portland and San Diego, he says he's starting to feel comfortable in his new role. "I like it. It kind of gives me a chance to see how the game is flowing and being called. There's usually a couple of fouls picked up by some of the bigs in the first couple of minutes whether it's on our team or their team. So, my not being in there at all gets rid of any possibility of being in foul trouble the rest of the game," Mika said. He added, that he also likes his new role because by the time he comes into the game, other teams are already close to the bonus and he can take advantage of that.

As the Cougars head into their first tournament game this weekend, Mika will probably find himself on the bench again. But when Coach Rose calls his number, he'll be ready to go.

From the desk of Alan Miller, Assistant Producer of “BYU Sports Nation" on BYU Radio

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