What you need to Know: BYU vs Saint Mary's (Basketball Edition)

Saint Mary's will visit Provo on Saturday - Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Tonight the only conference opponent the Cougars have failed to beat since joining the WCC, Saint Mary's, will be visiting Provo. Haws and Mika are looking to put that stat to rest.

The History

In the 15th meeting between the Gaels and the Cougars, BYU will try to recover from two devastating losses last year. Although the Cougars have the edge in the series 8-6, Saint Mary's has won the last four against the Cougars. The last time the Cougars beat the Gaels was in 2010 when the BYU was still part of the Mountain West.

Provo, UT 2013 (8-5)

In a game commonly known as the "Dellavedova Dagger", the Cougars played a hard fought game and were looking at getting their first win against Saint Mary's since joining the WCC. The Cougars came out strong and led 20-4 before a time out slowed down the offense and put the Cougars into an offensive tailspin. Over the next six minutes the Cougars offense only scored six points and allowed the Gaels to cut the deficit to single digits, and a BYU seven point halftime lead. Saint Mary's came out of the locker room with a quick 8-2 run to cut the lead to one. Soon after, the Cougars gave away the lead at 41-38 with 15 minutes to play. The teams played back and forth the rest of the way as the game came down to the wire. With 41 seconds left, Tyler Haws hit a shot from the corner to put the Cougars up 67-65 but Mathew Dellavedova hit a shot in the lane to tie it back up at 67, leaving 34 seconds on the clock. With the Cougars running out the clock, Matt Carlino found Haws who hit a jumper with 2.5 seconds on the clock. As the players and fans celebrated, the inbound pass found Dellavedova who sprinted up the court and heaved a shot from just inside the half-court line that went through the net and stunned the Cougars. With the last second shot, the Gaels walked out with a 70-69 win.

Moraga, CA 2013 (8-6)

Led by Brandon Davies 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists, the Cougars dropped their fourth straight game to the Gaels. BYU led early and even took a 32-28 lead into the half but were unable to hold on to it and ended up with a 64-57 loss. The Cougars had their shots, including near the end, but couldn't take advantage and came up short. With BYU only down two, Matt Carlino missed two free throws, which allowed the Gaels to pull away from the free throw line.

The Outlook

After a long road trip, the Cougars came back to the Marriott Center and took care of business. With a 10 point win, that wasn't really that close, the Cougars were able to get players involved and gain some confidence. There was plenty to get excited about, and yet still some areas that need improvement in order to put a win streak together.

The Positives

By now it seems like a broken record, but as always, you can't talk about the positives without talking Tyler Haws. With 38 points he again led all scorers and managed to move into sole possession of 10th place on the BYU all-time scoring list. He was hitting from everywhere as he hit eight of his first nine shots and ended up 4/5 from beyond the arc. Not only did he shoot well, but the team managed to shoot over 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from three. Even the free throw shooting improved, if only for just one game, where they shot 72 percent as a team. With these shooting percentages, the Cougars can cause some damage against any team.

What may be the biggest difference in the game, the Cougars destroyed the Tigers on the offensive board. With 17 offensive rebounds, the Cougars created a number of second chance opportunities, and took advantage by scoring 22 second chance points. If the Cougars can continue to rebound on the offensive side, they will be hard to beat.

The Negatives

With all the good things that the Cougars did, there were still a few things that need to be improved. The defense looked to have improved in the beginning of the game but ended up allowing 78 points. Not only is this too many points, but they allowed the Tigers to hit over 53 percent of their shots, and over 41 percent of their three pointers. The defense will need to buckle down and keep the future opponents to a much lower shooting percentage if they want to continue to win games.

As has become a pattern this year, the Cougars took a number of large leads but then gave up streaks that pulled the opponent within striking distance. Twice in the second half the Cougars allowed 9-0 runs, once pulling the Tigers within four and the second within 10. These runs can not be allowed against the better teams or they could result in loses.

The Keys to Watch

When Saint Mary's has the ball: Watch for the Gaels to share the ball as all five starters are averaging in double digits. Junior forward Brad Waldow leads the crew with almost 17 points per game, and over seven rebounds. Senior guard Stephen Holt distributes the ball with over five assists per game, but also adds 14 points a game. Watch for the Cougars to body up to the Gaels and put pressure on as they try and force turnovers. The Cougars will be playing tighter defense on the three point shooters as the team is averaging almost 42 percent on the year and it will just get better if given open shots. Watch for the Cougars to replicate their rebounding performance from Thursday as they are averaging eight more rebounds per game.

When BYU has the ball: Watch for the Cougars to get the ball to Haws on the outside and Eric Mika on the inside. Both players scored over 20 points against Pacific and will look to establish the same offense against the Gaels. The Cougars continued to play physical and Mika finished 7-9, many of his points coming from second chance points. Watch for the Saint Mary's to force a struggling Kyle Collinsworth into shooting the ball and slowing the pace of the game. If they allow the Cougars to run their fast break offense, the Gaels may not be able to keep up.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 9 pm MST

Where: Marriott Center-Provo, UT

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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