The BYU Cougars and the Long Beach State 49ers have met 10 times since 1972 with their last meeting taking place in 2014. BYU leads the series with six wins and four losses. The game this year is part of the ESPN 24 hours of basketball and so a late start on the west coast means a start that will be pushing midnight in Utah.
Marriott Center-Provo, UT (95-90)
In the 2014 home opener the Cougars relied on their seniors to give the Cougars their first win of the season. Tyler Haws and Skyler Halford gave the Cougars 39 of the teams 95 points. Haws led the team with 21 of those points while Halford added seven assists to his 18 points. The teams traded runs in the first half and each took multiple leads before the 49ers took a 47-46 lead into the locker room. BYU took an early second half lead but couldn't maintain it as Long Beach State tied it up at 66. From there the Cougars took back the lead and never looked back as they built a double-digit lead and held off the 49ers for the 95-90 win.
The Cougars started their season last Friday with a home game against Utah Valley University. Many expected a good game from the men in blue, and they delivered. Both the offense and defense showed up, albeit against an out-matched Wolverine team. The Cougars won by 31 and gave a number of young guys a chance to play in the later minutes of the game. The Cougars win couldn't have been scripted any better.
The only thing you need to know about this game was that Utah State transfer Kyle Davis is the real deal. Davis only played 27 minutes due to the large lead, but he made his minutes count. Not only did he score 17 points but he ended up securing a season opening recording at the Marriott Center with 20 rebounds. He was a monster and was all over the floor as he caused all sorts of problems for the Wolverines. Davis proved that he will be a staple on this team and will help solidify the Cougars big lineups.
The Cougars had open three pointers for most of the game but couldn't convert the shots consistently. The Cougars only shot 33% in the first half and then dropped to 23% in the second. The young guys took a good portion of those and will hopefully find their range as the season goes, but Kyle Collinsworth went 0-4 from behind the arc leaving many to wonder if his offseason work hasn't yet paid off.
This game may come down to how well the 49ers big guys can slow down Kyle Davis and Corbin Kaufusi. Not only will Roschon Prince, Gabe Levin, and Mason Riggins need to keep them from scoring at ease in the low post but they will need to limit the rebounds that they pull in. If Davis and Kaufusi are getting all the rebounds, it will prove to be a long night for the home team.
The Keys to Watch
When the 49ers have the ball:
Watch for Long Beach State to run a guard heavy offense. the top five shooters in their opening game came from the guard line. Justin Bibbins led the team with five assists but also scored 11 points. Watch for A.J Spencer to get his shots along with Nick Faust. Even though the guards did most of the shooting, don't count out Prince to put up some points. In the first game he scored sixteen points, but 10 came from the free throw line. Watch for the Cougars to force long shots as they make the 49ers beat them from the outside. LBSU shot 35% from the three-point line in their first game and so BYU will use their big bodies to keep the scoring out of the paint.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to spread the ball around like they did against UVU. The Cougars have the green light to shoot the three-ball whenever they have a chance and so watch Chase Fischer to continue to throw it up and connect. Watch for the shots from behind the arc to fall a bit better as no player shot better than 50%, and those that did were 1 of 2. Watch for Davis, Kaufusi, and Nate Austin to grab the missed shots and either reset the offense or go back up and score. Watch for the 49ers to bank on the hope that the Cougars long shots aren't falling. Watch for the 49ers to rely on quick hands to keep the ball out of the paint and make BYU play physical from the outside.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 11:45 pm MST
Where: Walter Pyramid-Long Beach, CA
TV: ESPN 2
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here