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

After sweeping the Gaels last season, the Cougars will face a hostile team and environment on Saturday.

Brad Waldow leads the Gaels in scoring with 20.1 points per game
Brad Waldow leads the Gaels in scoring with 20.1 points per game
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The BYU Cougars and the Saint Mary's Gaels have faced of 16 times since 1956 and the Cougars have won 10 of them. The Gaels have won four of the last six since the Cougars joined the WCC but BYU swept them last year and are hoping to do the same in 2015.

Provo, UT 2014 (84-71)

In an effort to stop a four game skid against the Gaels, Tyler Haws led the Cougars with 33 points as he led the team to an 84-71 victory. The Cougars started off slow as they found themselves down 10 only five minutes into the game but a number of runs allowed the Cougars to creep back into the game and tie shortly before the half. BYU would head to the locker room only down one, 38-37, but would make the second half count.  After the Cougars took a one point lead, Haws would score seven straight points for the Cougars and a 13-3 run put them up by nine. The Cougars built up their lead to 16 at 77-61 with under four to play and giving the Cougars the win. A late flagrant 2 foul by the Gaels Garrett Jackson marred the end of the game but BYU held on to win by 13.

Moraga, CA 2014 (60-57)

Facing a Gaels team that was out for revenge, the Cougars were able to overcome shooting struggles and a double digit deficit to win 60-57 on the road. Once again Haws led all scorers with 18 points as Kyle Collinsworth added 14.  After BYU scored first the Gaels went on a 7-0 run and an 18-7 run in order to take a 25-11 lead. The Cougars were able to cut it to six before Saint Mary's extended it out to 12 before a Collinsworth tip-in sent the teams to the locker room with a 35-25 game. The second half went much the same as the first until a block by Eric Mika turned into a Nate Austin layup as the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to pull the game within three at 44-41. With just under four minutes to go the Cougars tied the game at 53. After a Gaels miss the Cougars had a chance for their first lead since the opening basket of the game but a Matt Carlino three pointer was off the mark. Austin once again benefited as he was in the area for the tip-in and the lead. Free throws ended up deciding the game as Carlino and Skyler Halford each hit two free throws with under 10 seconds to seal the win.

The Outlook

After putting up 93 on Pacific, without their second leading scorer, Cougar fans have to be happy and optimistic going into the game against the Gaels. The offense is clicking on all cylinders and the three point shot is falling. The Cougars are living by the three much more than they are dying by the three and fans are hoping this continues.

The Positives

Kyle Collinsworth deserves this space to himself. Regardless of the fact that Haws scored 26, tied Jimmer for 3rd all time in 20 point games, and waltzed through the Pacific defense. Collinsworth once again showed his value to the team as he added triple-double number four on the season, tying the NCAA record, as he scored 17 while bringing down 11 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists. This was a night that belonged to Kyle, as will the next game he records a triple-double.

The Negatives

The Cougars defense, especially in the paint, was once again porous. Giving up 80 points to a Tigers team that averages 65 is unacceptable and will cause problems as they face better offensive teams. The Cougars were able to limit the second chance points but gave up 40 points in the paint. Some of this was due to the post players in foul trouble, but it is becoming a trend that needs to be corrected. BYU can't keep outscoring an opponent in a race. They will need to play some defense at some point.

The Keys to Watch

When the Gaels have the ball:

Watch for the Gaels to be physical as they force the ball inside to their senior forward, Brad Waldow. Waldow leads the team in points per game (20.1) and rebounds (10.1). Although Waldow is the most demanding challenge, the Gaels have a pair of good guards in Kerry Carter and Aaron Bright. Carter averages 13 points a game while Bright averages almost 12, and provides almost four assists per game. Watch for the Gaels to push the ball but pull it out and set an offense if the shot isn't just right. The Gaels are shooting 46% from the floor and are averaging over 71 points a game so look for them to put up shots, and make them.

Watch for the Cougars to force turnovers as they attempt to keep the ball away from Waldow. Don't be surprised if the Cougars use all their fouls from Corbin Kaufusi, Luke Worthington, and Isaac Neilson as they put Waldow to the line, as he is a 68% free throw shooter. Watch for the Cougars to get their hands on the ball once Waldow receives the pass as they work on his two turnovers per game.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to continually make the extra pass as they quickly find a shot and take it. The four guard lineup should continue to benefit the Cougars as they can find someone open on almost every play as the defense can't keep up with the passes, allowing for higher percentage shots. Watch for the guards to take advantage of the lack of shot blocking by the Gaels and drive the ball at the defense, opening up the outside shot even more.

Watch for the Gaels to try and close the gaps as they try and force the longer shots in hopes that they won't go in. Watch for the Gales defense to go after the rebounds and not allow BYU to score second chance points. The Gaels struggle to force turnovers but will put in the extra effort to get their hands in the lanes as the extra BYU passes will give the Gaels extra chances for deflections and steals.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 9 pm MST

Where: McKeon Pavilion- Moraga, CA


Internet: WatchESPN

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

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here