MILWAUKEE -- Matt Carlino is back where he expected to be all season.
BYU's junior guard will replace injured Kyle Collinsworth in the starting lineup when the 10th-seeded Cougars (23-11) face seventh-seeded Oregon (23-9) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at 12:10 p.m. today at the Bradley Center.
The 6-foot-2 Carlino started the first 15 games of the season for the Cougars, but went to the bench after he shot 13-for-52 from the field in the final four games of that stretch. He was a reserve for BYU's final 19 games and ranks third on the team with 13.7 points per game.
"It's been, uh, not what I expected going into the year, but I'm just trying to do my best every game, trying to help this team win," Carlino said.
Sitting in front of his locker Wednesday afternoon, Carlino paused when asked what he did expect this season.
"I don't know how to answer that question," he said. "I didn't expect to be coming off the bench. It's been a good thing for me in some respects."
Carlino, who transferred from UCLA in the middle of his freshman year, made eight three-pointers in a game last month against Portland en route to 30 points. He trails only Collinsworth -- who had knee surgery Tuesday after tearing his ACL in the West Coast Conference championship game against Gonzaga -- in assists for the Cougars with an average of 4.3 per game.
"Personally, I think Matt has had his best season since he's been here," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "When you come off the bench as a sixth man, it seems from a public opinion or from a media opinion that maybe his season has been tarnished, but in reality I think his play has been so consistent and so steady for our team that he's been a huge factor in our success.
"And we need Matt to play well for our team to be successful and that will probably step up a little more because he'll get probably a few more minutes."
Carlino played 28.8 minutes per game in his starts and 25.8 minutes off the bench. Carlino had 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting along with 11 rebounds and four assists in BYU's 100-96 overtime loss at Oregon in December. His start today will be his first since Dec. 30.
"Just keep doing what I've been doing, maybe rebound a little more," said Carlino, who averages 3.4 rebounds per game. "It's going to be different because my rhythm will be different. Coming off the bench, you have more time to warm up and stuff like that, so it is different, but I'm not thinking there will be too much change with it."
BYU junior guard Tyler Haws, who ranks sixth in the country with 23.4 points per game, also doesn't expect much different from Carlino.
"A lot of the same stuff he has done coming off the bench," Haws said. "He has been a great energy guy for us, played his game and has not gone out of his lane. He has shot the ball really well as of late, so I expect nothing less."
Carlino shoots 39 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from the three-point range. He is shooting 42.3 percent from the field, including 36.3 on three-pointers, during the last five games.
"I expect what I expect every game from Matt," freshman forward Eric Mika said. "He's a playmaker. He makes shots every game that wow me. He did that in the Oregon game the last time we played them, so I know he is very capable.
"He is a very good passer, very capable of taking over a game. That is what I expect."
Carlino is ready once again to help the Cougars from the start.
"It feels like a new start because it's so fresh," Carlino said. "It feels like that for everyone. You win or go home, and that's a good feeling."
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