Tonight the BYU Cougars will face off against the Adams State Grizzlies in the first ever meeting between the two teams. The Grizzlies come to Provo from Alamosa, Colorado and have struggled this season as they are 1-3 including exhibition games. Last year the team finished the season 19-9 but lost all three of their exhibition games.
The Cougars are coming off a devastating loss to Long Beach State and are looking to rebound and right the ship. There is very little positive that can be taken from this game but hopefully the Cougars have gotten their bad loss out of their system for the season. The Cougars struggled in most aspects of the game and aren't really as bad as they showed on Monday, but they will need to get things fixed quickly if they want to recover from this game in the eyes of the NCAA Selection Committee.
Corbin Kaufusi was the Cougars silver lining from Monday as he recorded a career night with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. Not only did Kaufusi shoot 70% from the field, he also shot 75% from the free throw line, which nobody else came close to matching. Kaufusi may not have led the team in rebounds but he did pull down four offensive boards to pace the Cougars on the offensive side of the ball.
Although a case can be made that the 25% shooting from the three-point line was a glaring negative, it was actually beat out as the most depressing number by the 38% free throw shooting. Yes, the Cougars shot 38% percent when given free shots. Kaufusi hit three of four free throws for the Cougars and the rest of the team went 5 of 17 from the line. Regardless of how well you run your offense, with free throw shooting like that a team won't be in many games. It was amazing that the Cougars only lost by one with this glaring stat. Hopefully Coach Rose put the guys in the gym to shoot free-throws until they couldn't lift their arms during practice as this must be corrected quickly.
In this game the key match-up will be how the Grizzlies deal with Corbin Kaufusi. The Grizzlies play a bit smaller but will need to throw in their big guys for as many minutes as possible as they attempt to slow down Kaufusi, and even Davis for the Cougars. BYU will look to take advantage of that as much as possible, especially after what Kaufusi showed on Monday.
The Keys to Watch
When the Grizzlies have the ball:
Watch for the Grizzlies to keep the ball in the hands of their senior guard Shakir Smith. Smith is averaging 35 minutes, 26.5 points, 2.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. He should have the ball on every possession and the offense will run through him almost all game. When Smith doesn't have the ball he will be giving it to fellow senior Joe Bell Austin. Austin leads the team in assists with 4.5 per game and adds 11 points a game. Both players have taken at least 10 three pointers and are shooting 50% from behind the arc so expect them to have confidence in their shot.
Watch for the Cougars to pressure these two players in order to get the ball out of their hands. Smith is averaging four turnovers a game and Austin is averaging three a game so pressure could put them into panic mode, giving the Cougars a chance to create turnovers on almost every possession.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to play better in transition. On Monday the Cougars appeared to be looking for the selfish play in transition, instead of looking to make a play for their teammate. Coach Rose was not pleased with this and I am sure addressed it extensively in practices this week. Watch for the Cougars big men to dominate on the boards, creating second chance and transition opportunities. Watch for the Cougars to rebound from the free-throw line and the three-point line as they hit open shots and put the game away early.
Watch for the Grizzlies to play physical and force the Cougars to make shots from the free-throw line. Anytime you shoot that poorly, a team has no choice but to test them the next game. Watch for the Grizzlies to pressure the Cougars early as they try to force turnovers in the same manner that Long Beach State did. The Cougars had 24 turnovers on Monday and the Grizzlies will try to do the same.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 7 pm MST
Where: Marriott Center-Provo, Utah
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here