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

Kevin Pangos leads the Bulldogs in scoring and assists. - James Snook-US PRESSWIRE

With a four game losing streak to the Bulldogs, the Cougars invade Spokane on Saturday looking to knock of the top team in the WCC.

The History

In the game of the week in the WCC the Cougars will continue their road trip and face the Bulldogs of Gonzaga. This will be the eighth meeting between the schools with Gonzaga holding a sizable lead of five wins to the Cougars two. The Cougars have lost the last four in the series, including a loss in the 2012 WCC Tournament.


Spokane, WA 2013 (2-4)

On a night where the Cougars leading scorers only scored 14, the Cougars dropped their third game in a row to Gonzaga. The Bulldogs started off strong and didn't look back after taking an early 11-3 lead. BYU was able to cut it to five before Gonzaga jumped out to a double digit lead at 21-10. With two minutes left in the half, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 22 and the Cougars could only pull within 19 at the half. In the second half the Cougars were able to pull within 12 before Gonzaga pulled away again with an 11-4 run to take the game 83-63. Josh Sharp and Brandon Davies each scored 14 while Carlino added 11.

Provo, UT 2013 (2-5)

Facing off against the #2 team in the nation, the Cougars played the Bulldogs tough, but were unable to pull out the upset in the final minutes. With Davies sitting on the bench due to foul trouble, the Cougars tried to keep the game close as they fell down by eight with under 10 minutes to go in the half. With just under seven minutes to go in the half, Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino cut the lead to two at 25-23. After trading free-throws to end the half, BYU went into the locker room down four. Early in the second half the Bulldogs again pulled out to an eight point lead before Davies again sat due to fouls. Down 11 with 10 minutes left in the game, Davies re-entered the game and the Cougars found a way to tie the game at 60 before Craig Cusick missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Bulldogs escaped with a 70-65 win. Haws led the Cougars with 10 points while Davies turned in a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Outlook

After a heart-wrenching triple-overtime loss to Portland on Thursday night, the Cougars will need to quickly regroup and find a way to face a team they haven't beaten in almost 2 years. The Cougars key players may have a hard time finding their legs after each played over 30 minutes. Haws, Carlino, Nate Austin, and Kyle Collinsworth each played over 40 and Haws and Austin played past the 50 mark. With the loss, the Cougars took a hit to their at-large bid but can redeem themselves with a win against Gonzaga.

The Positives

Haws and Carlino again showed their importance to the team as they scored 48 and 25 points respectively. Time after time they made key plays in key moments, and managed to keep the Cougars in the game until the end. Behind their leaders, the Cougars continued to fight until the end and played with all the heart and desire you could expect from a team.

The Negatives

The Achilles heel for the Cougars was again the poor free throw shooting as a team. Shooting only 67 percent was a key in the loss, and even Haws managed to uncharacteristically miss three freebies. After continued improvement by Collinsworth, he reverted back to struggles and only hit 6 of 12 free-throws and missed some in key moments.

The lack of quality play from Collinsworth and Mika was key in the loss and forced the team to rely on Haws and Carlino, leading to tough match-ups in key situations. Collinsworth continued to drive to the hoop and either miss shots, or miss free-throws when he drew the foul. The Cougars showed the weakness of the team when more than one starter fails to play quality minutes. Mika failed to use his size in the paint and played a big part in allowing 19 offensive rebounds to the Pilots.

The Keys to Watch

When Gonzaga has the ball: Watch for the Bulldogs to take, and hit, high percentage shots each time down the floor. With a 51 percent team shooting percentage, and almost 82 points per game, Gonzaga is the poster child for efficiency. With junior guard Kevin Pangos leading the team in points (16.2) and assists (4.3) the Bulldogs will look for him to make plays. However, Gonzaga isn't one dimensional as they have four players averaging double digit scoring, as well as David Stockton averaging over four assists per game. Watch for the Cougars to force difficult shots, but avoid giving up the easy three. With a 42.5 three point shooting percentage, the Bulldogs will be glad to take the open shot, from anywhere on the floor.

When BYU has the ball: Watch for the Cougars to get the ball to Collinsworth and Mika early with the intent to get them going quickly. The Cougars know that they will need both of them, combined with Haws and Carlino, if they will have any chance of upsetting Gonzaga. After watching Haws go for 48 against the Pilots, watch for the Bulldogs to force the ball out of his hands. Watch for the bench to step up for the Cougars as they will play more minutes, giving some relief to the tired starters. Gonzaga will be happy to let the BYU bench take their shots until they start falling, daring the other Cougars to step up. Watch for a very physical game as both teams will be looking to solidify their spots in the conference and players on both sides know the importance of this game.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 8 pm MST

Where: McCarthey Athletic Center-Spokane, WA

TV: ESPN2

Internet: WatchESPN

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

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here

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