This Saturday BYU and Utah State will both travel to play for the 230th time in basketball. The Cougars lead the series 137-92 since the series started in 1905 with the last game taking place earlier this year. This will be the second time the Cougars and Aggies will face off in Energy Solutions Arena and the Cougars are looking to go 2-0.
Salt Lake City, UT 2008
In another battle for the Oquirrh Bucket, the Cougars prevailed in a closely fought battle. With a defense that caused seven steals by halftime the Cougars went into the locker room up 38-35. At one point the Cougars had an 11 point lead but couldn't put the Aggies away. The Cougars forced a total of 17 turnovers in the game, including 12 steals. BYU held on for the five point win, 68-63, behind Jonathan Tavernari who had 24 points and nine rebounds.
Provo, UT 2013
The game in Provo was originally scheduled for earlier in the year but a health scare to Aggie Danny Berger postponed the game until February. In the midst of the conference schedules, the two teams were able to agree on the game and it paid dividends with an exciting finish. The first half was back and forth but the Cougars were able to pull away just before the half to take a nine point lead into the locker room. In the second half the Cougars were able to extend the lead to 11 before the Aggies were able to tie the game with 57 seconds left. In the final seconds the Cougars held the ball and misfired on a shot that bounced off the rim and right to Cougar guard Craig Cusick. Cusick was able to hit a shot off the rebound with .2 seconds on the clock to seal the 70-68 victory. Tyler Haws led all scorers with 27 and hit 12 of 14 from the free throw line.
After an up and down week in Kansas City, the Cougars are looking to bounce back and make some noise against the Aggies. BYU made it to the Championship game on Tuesday but was unable to come out with a win. There were some improvements made but also some steps taken backwards. If the Cougars can fix these issues, they could make noise in conference play.
Against Texas the Cougars were able to hit 10-12 three-pointers, showing that they can hit the shot. Matt Carlino hit 5-7, Tyler Haws hit 2-2, and Frank Bartley IV hit 3-3. If given the chance, the Cougars can be deadly from the arc and they just need to become more consistent.
In Kansas City, Tyler Haws found his rhythm from the free throw line. In the two games he went to the line 21 times and hit 20 of them. If Haws can continue to hit the free throws, it will help make up for the rest of the teams free throw shooting woes.
Against Wichita State the Cougars shot a dismal 31% from the field and an even worse 25% from the three-point line. It was tough to watch the lack of productivity in the second half by the key players, and many of the shots that were taken were not even close.
Against Iowa State last week and Wichita State this week the Cougars again gave up a double digit lead in the loss. This not only comes from the lack of scoring at times but the lack of rebounding. Against a smaller Shockers team, the Cougars were outrebounded and gave up 15 offensive rebounds which led to 17 second chance points. In order to compete against teams of this caliber, BYU must do better on the boards.
The Keys to Watch
When Utah State has the ball: Watch for the Aggies to rely on their talented group of seniors to carry the load. Senior forward/center Jarred Shaw leads all scorers with just over 16 points a game and adds seven rebounds. Senior guard Preston Medlin adds 15 points a game and four assists, while senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield chips in just over 14 points a game and almost six rebounds. Look for these three to take the majority of the shots as they have 153 of the teams 271 shot attempts. Look for the Cougars to fill the lanes and try to create turnovers. The Aggies only average ten turnovers per game so the opportunities will be limited but if BYU can take advantage; this could lead to fast break points.
When BYU has the ball: Watch for the Cougars to continue to spread the ball around, keeping the Aggies on their toes. The Cougars have 121 assists on their 219 shots made and they have four players averaging 11 points or more. Matt Carlino will continue to shoot and Tyler Haws will continue to force fouls and go to the free throw line. Haws has made more free throws (45) than any other player has attempted (32, Carlino). The Cougars will continue to push the ball and rely on Eric Mika and Nate Austin to outrun the opposing big men. Mika and Austin will continue to look for the offensive rebounds and try to turn them into second chance points. Look for the Aggies to force tough shots from the Cougars and try to hustle to the ball on the rebounds and hustle plays. If they can minimize the Cougars offensive rebounds, the lack of second chance points could be the difference in the game.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 7pm MST
Where: Energy Solution Arena-Salt Lake City, UT
Radio (BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143