Winning in Spokane is a tough thing to do -- that probably doesn't even need to be stated. So what can BYU do to replicate its previous success against Gonzaga? Here are my unscientific, purely hunch-driven keys to tomorrow's game.
PRAY FOR NOAH
Remember that time BYU so awesomely beat Gonzaga at home? That balding T-101 machine scored 24 points on 10-19 shooting, pulled down 14 boards, had two blocks, and logged the most minutes (35) of any Cougar that day. Noah Hartsock is easily BYU's most consistent player, and BYU needs him. If he can't play due to his knee injury, I won't say BYU can't win, but man will it take a perfect game. Here's to his homegrown country strength and some cortisone shots.
NATE AUSTIN D, NO DAVIES FOUL TROUBLE
Even if Hartsock can play, it would be surprising if he can go 35 minutes like last time. Since Chris Collinsworth (oh how BYU could use him in a game like this!) is a season-long no-go, this means Brandon Davies needs to stay on the floor. BYU can still do damage from the post if he can stay on the floor. He did score 15 points on 7-12 shooting in the first matchup with Gonzaga.
Noah's status also means Nate Austin will likely receive more minutes. He needs to have a much better game than the last Zaga outing in which he posted three points, two rebounds, and committed 4 fouls in just 12 minutes. BYU can likely get it done without many points from Austin, but he will need to block a few shots, control rebounds, and keep Robert Sacre his normal passive self. If Austin and Davies can stay on the floor, it will help to keep Elias Harris and Sacre at bay.
It is no secret that Matt Carlino's superhoop shot has been off. His performance at San Francisco still feels like an anomaly. Even if his stroke is back in Spokane, BYU's offense works very well when the freshman tries to get into the lane. At Santa Clara, Carlino took only four shots (one three-pointer) in 22 minutes but dished out seven assists. If Hartsock's post game is limited (or altogether gone), a creating Carlino could be BYU's best chance at offensive success.
CHASE PANGOS/BELL OFF THE 3-POINT LINE
Gonzaga doesn't cast up as many threes as BYU does, but if Kevin Pangos or Gary Bell get going, it's likely game over. Pangos has proven he can light it up from behind the arc at home, you know, like that time he shot 9-13 from deep to beat Washington State -- or when he went 5-6 from three, most of which came at a pivotal second-half stretch, to absolutely bury Saint Mary's. Bell doesn't average a ton of threes, but he does shoot 44% and I get a distinct feeling that these two could make this game feel a lot like the loss to Wisconsin.