The Cougars make their debut in the West Coast Conference Tournament tonight against San Diego at 9:00 pm MT on ESPNU and ESPN3.com (or so says ESPN. It will likely be at least 9:30 pm). BYU was pretty successful against the Toreros in the regular season. Here are my keys to a win tonight to advance to the semifinals, which are more like reminders of how BYU beat USD twice already.
1. STOP JOHNNY DEE
The six-foot freshman spark plug was lights-out last night against Pepperdine, scoring 30 points on 9-14 shooting, which included 6-9 from behind the arc. But in two games against BYU, Dee averaged 7 points per game, had 1 total assist, and shot 4-16 from the floor (3-14 from deep). BYU used some D from Matt Carlino and Charles Abouo to slow him down. Given Anson Winder's increased role over the last few weeks, don't be surprised to see Winder as the one assigned to slow down Dee.
2. GIVE DAVIES TOUCHES
Operating on the assumption that we won't see Noah Hartsock tonight -- or if we do, that it will be for very few minutes -- Brandon Davies needs to get touches early to get him locked in. Even if he isn't needed to score in bunches, a locked-in Davies is still key. He pulled down 6 offensive rebounds in both matchups against the Toreros. His two-game averages against USD are 16 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 assists. He's had big games against USD, and another one tonight will help.
3. CHARLES IN CHARGE
Meaningful contributions from Charles Abouo have keyed previous wins over USD. He posted a 14-7-7 effort in San Diego, and in Provo he got himself to the free-throw line 10 times.
4. STAY OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE
This key is not only for the purpose of keeping your best players on the floor, but for keeping USD off the foul line. The Toreros are outmatched against BYU, so keeping them off the charity stripe will limit opportunities to make up for deficiencies.
Hopefully with these keys, BYU can build a big lead and give some starters rest over the final 8-10 minutes and prepare for a Gonzaga showdown.