What you need to Know: BYU vs Loyola Marymount (Basketball Edition)

Eric Mika goes up for a basket against USU - Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight year the Cougars will meet up with the Lions for their conference opener. With the toughest part of the schedule behind them, the Cougars look to climb the ranks of the WCC.

The History

On Saturday BYU will open up their West Coast Conference schedule by paying a visit to the Lions of Loyola Marymount. This will be the 8th meeting between the schools and BYU holds a slight 4-3 advantage in the win column. This will also mark the second year in a row that the two teams meet to begin conference play. The series started in 1937 but has increased with the Cougars addition to the WCC. The two teams will play twice a year in conference play.

Provo, UT 2013 (3-3)

When the Lions visited the Marriot Center in January, the Cougars held them to under 31% shooting for the game and held their leading scorer to just nine points. In the 92-51 beating, Matt Carlino scored 21 points while Tyler Haws scored 20. Every Cougar that dressed played in the game and only one did not score.

Los Angeles, CA 2013 (4-3)

In the regular season finale, the Cougars traveled to Gerston Pavilion to try and mimic the blow out that took place in the Marriott Center. Things didn't work out quite the same as the Lions fought to stay in the game and ended up with only a three point loss. The Cougars hit key free-throws to keep or extend their lead. In the 73-70 result, Haws scored 24 points to lead the Cougars while hit all 14 free-throws. Matt Carlino and Brandon Davies each finished with 11.


The Outlook

Even with five losses on the year, the Cougars haven't really notched a "bad" loss. All five games provided experiences and situations that will help the team in the long run. BYU has also had one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. Going into conference play, the experience and trials they have faced could make a marked difference against their conference opponents.

The Positives

The Cougars played much better in the loss to Oregon and scored 96 points. The majority of the shots were high percentage and they were falling early and often. With exception to the final minutes, the decision making was very good and very consistent. When Eric Mika and Nate Austin were on the floor, the Cougars were dominating the boards and getting second chance and fast break opportunities.

The Negatives

The Cougars have now lost three of their last four games and dropped a game to Oregon that was theirs for the taking. Missed free throws and bad decisions in the final minutes allowed the Ducks to take the game to overtime. Eric Mika and Nate Austin both fouled out in the final minutes of regulation and that took away any size advantage that the Cougars had. Not only did free throws cost the Cougars valuable points, BYU continued to foul the wrong players and allowed Oregon to visit the free throw line too often.

The Keys to Watch

When Loyola Marymount has the ball: Look for the lions to keep the ball in the hands of senior guard Anthony Ireland. In 12 games he is averaging over 19 points a game while dishing out over five assists per game. Joining him in double digit scoring is freshman guard Evan Payne with over 14 points a game, freshman forward Gabe Levin with over 12 points a game, and sophomore forward Ben Dickinson with just under 11 points per game. Levin is the leading rebounder on the team with just under nine a game. Look for BYU to pressure Ireland into bad shots or bad passes. The size advantage for BYU should help protect the basket and the defense will try to force longer shots. The Cougars will be fine with most Lions taking the three-point shot as the team is only shooting 26% from the arc, with only one player shooting over 30%.

When BYU has the ball: Look for BYU to be aggressive in the paint. The Cougars will want to maximize the size advantage and should be able to out rebound the Lions on both sides of the ball. As always, look for Haws, Carlino, and Collinsworth to create shots inside and outside since they can take a few risks with the big guys under the hoop. Look for the Lions to minimize the damage from Haws and Collinsworth by playing physical. Don't be surprised if they don't put as much pressure on Carlino until he can show them that he is no longer in a slump. Most of the Lions attention will be on keeping Mika out of the paint and chasing Haws and Collinsworth.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 2 pm MST

Where: Gersten Pavilion- Los Angeles, CA

TV: Root Sports

Radio (BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here

Watch via Internet: Click Here

Who do you think will win the game? Vote in the poll and let us know why in the comments.

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