The last time the BYU Cougars played at the Utah Utes, in December 2013, the outcome was not pretty. BYU's perimeter trio of Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth and Matt Carlino combined to shoot 9-for-37 from the field, and the Cougars could not stop Jordan Loveridge and current NBA player Delon Wright, falling to the Utes in an 81-64 blowout. But after Utah's 90-66 loss to Miami in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off this season, the Utes look much more vulnerable than they have the two last seasons. Here are some of the potential matchups to look out for in Wednesday night's contest between BYU and Utah.
Nick Emery vs. Brandon Taylor
This is a story of two players headed in opposition directions. Emery is coming off of a 27-point performance in the win over Belmont, going 5-for-11 from behind the arc. Taylor is going through an early season slump for Utah, shooting just over 20 percent from distance in six games so far. Additionally, Emery has 2.86/1 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Taylor's is only 1.38/1. The primary reason for Emery's success and Taylor's struggles are in the different ball handling responsibilities they have. Taylor was accustomed to playing off the ball while Delon Wright ran the show for Utah during the past two seasons, so he has to adjust to having the ball in his hands and having to create for others instead of Wright feeding him for open 3-pointers. Emery, on the other hand, has had the luxury of playing alongside Kyle Collinsworth, who regularly pushes double-digit assists and creates open shots for the guards with his dribble penetration. Since Emery is four inches taller than Taylor, he should have ample opportunity to knock down outside shots, while Taylor will need to prove he can be a more effective playmaker if the Utes want to prevail.
Chase Fischer vs. Lorenzo Bonam
These two shooting guards are both good scorers, but their points come in very different ways. Fischer is a long-range shooter who has never met a 3-point shot he didn't like. While he has suffered an early season slump, he bounced back to shoot 5-for-10 from beyond the arc against Belmont on Saturday night. Bonam was a JUCO All-American last season at Gillette College who will give Fischer all he can handle defensively with his ability to attack the basket. Bonam is also a respectable outside shooter who can't be ignored outside the paint. If Fischer has trouble guarding Bonam, Kyle Collinsworth should get a chance guarding him, but that would mean Fischer would have to guard the much bigger and stronger Jordan Loveridge. It will be interesting to see if Utah will look to use Bonam in isolation plays to attack Fischer, who is not known for his defense.
Kyle Collinsworth vs. Jordan Loveridge
While these two do not play the same position (Collinsworth is a point guard, Loveridge is a natural small forward), this one-on-one matchup will most likely occur because both players are the same height and have weights within 7 pounds of each other. Collinsworth's job on defense will be to stay right on top of Loveridge and force him to do something other than shoot 3-pointers. Loveridge is a very streaky shooter and has struggled the past two games, and it will be Collinsworth's job to stay close to him on defense. Loveridge may have even more difficulty guarding Collinsworth, who could have Loveridge backpedaling all night, hopefully putting him in foul trouble.
Kyle Davis vs. Kyle Kuzma
This power forward matchup of Kyles features a classic battle of length and athleticism vs. physicality. Davis is the better post player and rebounder, but Kuzma is longer and more athletic, with the ability to pull Davis out to the perimeter. Kuzma is giving up 15 pounds to Davis and could have a lot of difficulty boxing him out, as Davis is averaging 12 rebounds per game this season. Kuzma hit a couple of early threes in Utah's best win this season over San Diego State that swung the momentum in favor of the Utes, so Davis will need to do his best to challenge Kuzma's outside shots.
Corbin Kaufusi vs. Jakob Poeltl:
This matchup of sophomore centers might be the most intriguing of them all. Poeltl is a projected first round NBA Draft pick, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Kaufusi is a rapidly improving post player who has the size and athleticism to give Poeltl fits. Whichever big man can avoid foul trouble and stay on the floor the longest will give their team a huge advantage in this game. Both players have the ability to give help when guards dribble penetrate in the lane, which makes their roles even more important in this game. Playing against Poeltl will be good practice for Kaufusi for when he has to play against Domantas Sabonis and the Gonzaga big men (likely) three times later this season.