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

After installing a four guard system for the Portland game, the Cougars will be looking to once again watch their guards bring home a win.

Brandon Clark leads the Broncos in scoring and assists.
Brandon Clark leads the Broncos in scoring and assists.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The History

Thursday is a special dose of college basketball as the BYU Cougars travel to take on the Santa Clara Broncos. The New Year's Day special afternoon edition will be the 27th between the schools in a series that started in 1951. BYU has a commanding lead in the series as they are 21-5 against the Broncos and have not lost to them since joining the West Coast Conference.

Santa Clara, CA 2014 (91-81)

Following the lead of Matt Carlino the Cougars extended their winning streak to five as they knocked off the Broncos on their home court. Six Cougars scored in double digits as Kyle Collinsworth led the team with 18 points, Anson Winder added 16 points, Tyler Haws had sixteen, Carlino had 15, while Skyler Halford and Eric Mika each added 10. The Cougars didn't score for the first three minutes but after taking the lead they never looked back as they built up a 24 point lead before the half. Santa Clara clawed their way back to within 10 on a number of occasions but were unable to get the game back into the single digits before the final buzzer sounded. BYU shot over 61% in the 91-81 win.

Provo, UT 2014 (89-76)

Once again BYU built a 22 point lead in the game before giving up some points at the end but the Cougars used four players in double figures (Haws 27, Collinsworth 18, Mika 15, Halford 12) as they again used runs to beat the Broncos. Eric Mika recorded his third double-double of the season as he added 10 rebounds to his 15 points. The first half was much closer than the previous game as the Cougars could only extend their lead to 13 by halftime but the second half was much more comfortable and it took a 13-2 run by the Broncos in the final minutes to give the score a bit more respectability. BYU once again outrebounded the Broncos as they pulled down 50, 18 more than Santa Clara.

The Outlook

The Cougars bounced back after a tough loss to Gonzaga with an offensive explosion. Putting up 97 points was a feat that hadn't happened since November 25, when they scored 121 on Chaminade, and it was nice to see the energy that the teams brought to the court. The Cougars not only won their first conference game of the year but beat a team that could ultimately contend down the stretch.

The Positives

The offensive showing is enough to be a positive but the sharing of the ball is what really stood out. Five players scored in double digits and three of them hit twenty. Tyler Haws had 24, Winder had 22, and Collinsworth had 21. When the guards are playing well, and they seem to enjoy the four guard lineup, the offense should thrive.

The Negatives

On the same note as the sharing of the ball being a positive, it also is a glaring negative to a team that scored 97 points. Of the 97 points, 44 of them were scored in the paint. Of the 44 points scored in the pain, 42 of them were scored by guards. In fact, of the 97 points scored, 95 were scored by guards with the remaining two being credited to Corbin Kaufusi. There is improvement by Kaufusi but he is still young, Worthington seems to be a big body that sometimes gets lost, and Isaac Neilson can now claim he grabbed a three point shot while it was on the rim.  To win the Cougars will need more positives out of this group.

The Keys to Watch

When the Broncos have the ball:

Watch for the Broncos to slow down the pace and avoid playing in a track meet with the Cougars. Santa Clara is averaging less than 63 points per game, good enough for 286th in the country, and only has two players that average double digit points. The Broncos offense goes through senior guard Brandon Clark as he averages 16.2 points per game and 4.3 assists per game. Watch for the Broncos to take care of the ball as they average only 11 turnovers per game and treasure each possession.

Watch for the Cougars to force the outside shot as the team shoots less than 43% and only 36% from behind the arc. More than half of the shots come from Clark and Jared Brownridge so watch for the Cougars to play tight defense on them as they force the other players to beat the Cougars. Watch for Kaufusi to bottle up the post as he has two inches on the tallest guy on the Broncos roster.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to utilize the four guard line up again as they play a smaller team. BYU is back in 1st with 88.1 points per game and will look to speed up the game as they try to put the Broncos away early. Watch for the Cougars to dominate in rebounds as they are averaging more than 10 rebounds per game more than the Broncos. As the Cougars grab the rebounds it will give them the chance to convert on second chance points and fast breaks off the defense. Watch for the Cougars to continue to be aggressive in the offense as they look to score from the inside and the outside.

Watch for the Broncos to harass the Cougars as they try to take charges and force the Cougars into foul trouble. The Broncos will try to force the Cougars into a half-court game as they force mid-range shots instead of points in the paint.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 3 pm MST

Where:  Leavey Event Center-Santa Clara, CA

TV: BYUtv

Internet:  www.byutv.org

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

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here