When BYU travels to San Francisco to face the Dons on Thursday night, the meeting will be the 15th between the schools with BYU holding a slight advantage 8-6. The first meeting took place in 1946 and the teams met twice last year, splitting the games. This will be the first meeting of the season between the schools with the second taking place in February.
San Francisco, CA 2013 (8-5)
In a game that went back and forth, the Cougars took an early lead before giving up a 9-0 run to the Dons early in the game. BYU then went on a subsequent 9-0 run before San Francisco answered with an 11-2 run. Trailing by as many as 12 in the half, the Cougars were able to pull within nine at the half, 46-37. BYU came out strong in the second half and within the first two minutes had cut the deficit to four. After an 8-0 run later in the half, the Cougars took the lead 70-69. Over the next couple minutes the Cougars increased their lead to six with less than two minutes remaining and held on 80-76. Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino each scored 22 points while Carlino added seven rebounds, five steals, and four assists.
Provo, UT 2013 (8-6)
In the return trip to Provo, the Cougars started off slow and only scored eight points in the first five minutes. After getting hot, the Cougars built a 13 point lead on the Dons at 44-31, but then San Francisco went on a run to give BYU a 48-39 lead at the half. The Cougars extended their lead back to 13 in the second half but with 10 minutes left in the game the Dons had pulled within six at 66-60. While only shooting 35 percent in the second half, the Cougars allowed San Francisco to shoot 72 percent. The hot shooting Dons took the lead for good at 75-72 with six minutes left in the game. After the Cougars tried to extend the game with free throws, the Dons finished with a 12 point win at 99-87.
Being on a three game win streak will do wonders for the confidence of a team and a fan base. Not only are the Cougars on a win streak, but they are also still in the hunt for the WCC crown. The Cougars are only a game behind league leading Gonzaga and only half a game out of second place. If the Cougars can steal a couple of games on the road they will put themselves in a good position in the league.
For most of the season the Cougars have struggled with free throw shooting, and they have been called out for it. This week they should be praised for their improvements. In the last two games the Cougars have shot 74 percent and almost 79 percent. That is a far cry from their sub 70 percent that have been the norm. One of the biggest factors has been Kyle Collinsworth. After shooting under 60 percent he has hit 11-16 including 6-8 last game. If this trend continues, the Cougars will be very difficult to beat and the hack-a-cougar defense will cause problems for their opponents.
After the last two performances, Tyler Haws has to be mentioned as a positive. His last two games have netted him 66 points and have come in critical moments. He has taken over in the second half when the game is close and made sure that the Cougars get the victory. His shooting hasn't been scorching but he is doing enough to carry the team on his back with Eric Mika out.
The Cougars have out-rebounded their opponents but have given up a number of offensive rebounds. In both games the opponent was able to pull down nine offensive rebounds. Against teams that have struggled on the boards, the Cougars shouldn't be giving up more than a couple. So far the second chance points haven't killed the Cougars as the rebounds have only led to 12 and 10 second chance points but this could change on the road.
The Keys to Watch
When San Francisco has the ball: Watch for the Dons to play an up-tempo game while creating high percentage shots. As a team the Dons are shooting over 48 percent which puts them in the top 30 of the country. Since the loss of Cody Doolin, forward Cole Dickerson has taken over the scoring load and is averaging almost 14 points per game on almost 50 percent shooting. Dickerson is also averaging over seven rebounds a game. Watch for the Cougars to try and use their size to keep the forwards out of the paint and alter shots. The Cougars will also try to take advantage of the rebounding advantage as they average about eight rebounds more per game.
When BYU has the ball: Watch for the Cougars to continue with the extra pass and improved shot selection that has assisted their three game win streak. Watch for BYU to create second chance points and create fast breaks off turnovers and rebounds. Watch for San Francisco to rush Haws and Carlino into low percentage shots. Watch for the Dons to get their hands into the lanes as they are averaging six steals per game.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 7 pm MST
Where: War Memorial Gymnasium-San Francisco, CA
Internet: Watch ESPN
Radio (BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here