What you need to Know: BYU vs Santa Clara (Basketball Edition)

Can Matt Carlino break out of his slump? - Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

With the Cougars struggles on the road, a trip to Santa Clara could be the answer in building up the players confidence in a tight WCC race.

The History

Tonight marks the 25th meeting between the BYU Cougars and the Santa Clara Broncos. The first game was played in 1951 and will continue for as long as the two teams are in the WCC. BYU leads the series 19-5 and won both games last season. This will be the first meeting this season and they will meet again in February.

Santa Clara, CA 2013 (18-5)

Behind a team effort, and 24 points from Tyler Haws, the Cougars knocked off the Broncos on the road. Santa Clara took their first lead at 2-0 before the Cougars went on a 6-0 run to take the lead but the Broncos quickly tied the game at 13. Santa Clara took brief leads at 18-17 and 21-20 but the Cougars withstood the Bronco runs and led 41-32 at the half. Santa Clara fought back to tie the game at 50 before the Cougars went on an 18-0 run to put the game out of reach. Brock Zylstra added 15 points while the team shot over 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line.

Provo, UT 2013 (19-5)

Less than a month after the first meeting, the Cougars again rode a second half run to beat the Broncos. The two teams played close in the first half as they both went on small runs before allowing the other team to catch up. With less than a minute left in the first half, Brandon Davies hit two free-throws to give the Cougars the one-point lead at the half. BYU came out of the locker room strong and quickly went on a 14-1 run. At one point the Cougars built a 23 point lead and came out with a 96-79 win. Matt Carlino led all scorers with 28 points while Haws added 24 and Davies added a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Outlook

The Cougars won their first road game in WCC play and it didn't come easy. With sloppy play and a lack of rebounding, the Cougars were set up to lose, yet found a way to win. With the win, and a little help from other teams, the Cougars are now sitting in second place in the WCC. BYU must play better on the road but they have shown that they can win, even when it is ugly.

The Positives

BYU had five players in double figures, even with foul trouble looming over the starters. The only starter to not score in double digits was Nate Austin, who didn't score. Kyle Collinsworth led the team with 19 points while Skyler Halford added 18, Tyler Haws added 15, Matt Carlino had 17, and Eric Mika had 11. The Cougars shot over 45 percent from the three point line and over 47 percent from the field. The Cougars also hit almost 76 percent of their free throws.

Along with the improved shooting, the Cougars defense created turnovers. BYU recorded eight steals and San Francisco had 16 total turnovers. In a game that was decided by seven points, each turnover was important. Not only did the Cougars force turnovers, they also limited their own turnovers to only 10.

The Negatives

For the first time in a while, the Cougars were dominated on the boards. BYU was out-rebounded on the offensive boards by seven and the defensive boards by four. This is after the Cougars did a better job of rebounding in the second half. The big guys for BYU did not box out and allowed a smaller player to record 14 rebounds compared to 12 for Nate Austin and Eric Mika combined. In order to consistently win on the road, the Cougars will need to rebound better than they did against the Dons.

BYU came into the game ranked in the top 10 of the country in assists. Against San Francisco the team combined for five. Against the Dons the Cougars were able to overcome the selfish play but they won't be able to continue the trend without losing some games along the way.

The Keys to Watch

When Santa Clara has the ball: Watch for the Broncos to play a slower tempo of ball as they are averaging just under 72 points per game. Santa Clara will rely on Brandon Clark and Jared Brownridge to provide the majority of the offense as they are averaging 17.4 and 15.8 points per game. Clark also averages almost four assists per game, leading the team in both categories. Watch for the Cougars to force the the ball out of the hands of Clark and into the hands of the other players. The Broncos only average 10 turnovers per game so the Cougars will try and force bad passes early, before the Broncos can set up their offense. Look for BYU to hit the boards and out rebound the Broncos, speeding up the tempo of the game.

When BYU has the ball: Watch for BYU to be more efficient when sharing the ball and making the extra pass, while keeping the tempo faster than the Broncos would like. Watch for the Broncos to force quick shots by anyone not named Haws. They will try to keep the ball out of his hands and force others to beat them. Look for Carlino and Collinsworth to have a bit more pressure on them, but they both should respond. Watch BYU to create second chance points off the offensive rebounds as Santa Clara is only averaging 33 rebounds per game.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 8 pm MST

Where: Leavey Event Center-Santa Clara, CA

TV: Root Sports

Internet: www.thew.tv

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

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here

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