The BYU Cougars and the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils have met only once on the hardwood as part of the South Padre Island Invitational. The Cougars are looking to win for the second time and will look to improve on parts of their game that need a bit of work.
Provo, UT 2010 (86-36)
The defense was the story in the first meeting between the Cougars and the Delta Devils, as BYU stifled the offense the entire game. Although the Cougars started off slow in the first half, they still ended with 37 points in the first half, but only allowed 10 points on defense. The 10 points tied a modern-era record for the Cougars for lowest points allowed in a half. The second half fared a bit better for the Delta Devils as they actually went on a 10-4 run at one point, but this came after the Cougars had their own 18-2 run and a 55-12 lead. The Cougars had four players score in double digits and Brandon Davies added a double-double in the 86-36 win.
Friday night was much more kind to the Cougars than their previous game, and as such the win against Adams State felt better to fans and players. Although the game was essentially another exhibition game, the Cougars addressed some of their shortcomings that reared their ugly heads in the loss to Long Beach State. There are still a number of issues, and the must be addressed before the Cougars can feel comfortable with any team on their schedule
Two of the Cougars shortcomings in their loss were corrected against the Grizzlies and turned out to be positives. The transition offense that was missing in the road game was much better on Friday and gives hope to a better chemistry with the team. The Cougars ended with 16 fast break points but shared the ball much better throughout the game and ended with 25 assists. That has to make Coach Rose happy. The turnover battle also turned out much better as the Cougars went from 25 turnovers to 11. Much of this can be attributed to Nick Emery as he finished with six assists and zero turnovers.
One shortcoming that still haunted the Cougars on Friday was the free throw shooting. Although the Cougars may never shoot 38% from the line again, at least we hope not, they still didn't improve enough to feel comfortable with playing a physical game. Against the Grizzlies the Cougars ended up shooting 53% from the line, well below the comfort level that is required by coaches and fans. This percentage will need to come up as close games, especially in conference, will come down to free throws.
Once again the Cougars will be facing a team that will need to find some way to slow down the Cougars big guys. In years past the strength for the Cougars has been the outside shooting, but this year it appears to be the tall guys in the middle. The Delta Devils only have one guy that can come close to matching up with Corbin Kaufusi in Bennett Davis, but in the first three games of the year he has only averaged 7.5 minutes on the court. This is a pretty good indicator that his 6'9 275 pound frame isn't really ready to go up against opposing centers. However, there is a good possibility he is on the court a bit more this game as they try to put in some sort of neutralizing body in the middle.
The Keys to Watch
When the Delta Devils have the ball:
Watch for the Delta Devils to struggle offensively. As a team they only average 54 points per game, only nine assists per game and they give the ball away 14 times a game. The team hasn't found a solidified substitution routine as nine players average double digit minutes and only one player scores in double digits. As a team they average 31% shooting and only 23% from behind the arc. Watch for the Cougars to take advantage of the struggling offense as they pressure Rashaan Surles and Ta'Jay Henry into more turnovers as they try to run the offense against the Cougars quick hands. Watch for the Cougars to once again dominate on the boards and not give up too many second chance points.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to continue making progress in their transition game as they look to share the ball with each other, creating open shots. Watch for Kyle Davis and Kaufusi to continue their scoring in the paint as well as sucking up all the rebounds. The Cougars may play a little more inside out as the points in the paint will open up the three point shot for the Cougars skilled shooters. Watch for the Delta Devils to use up as many of their fouls as they can as this might be the only way they stay in the game. Playing physical, especially in the paint, will be a key to their success as the Cougars are still struggling from the free throw line, leaving the door open for continued fouling.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 7 pm MT
Where: Marriott Center-Provo, UT
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here