On Wednesday the next edition of the BYU Cougars vs Utah Utes rivalry will head back to Salt Lake as the teams meet in the Huntsman Center. The two teams have met 256 times with BYU holding the slight edge 129-127. The series started in 1909 and has continued to be hard fought in the games since. Right now the Cougars have the upper hand with only two loses in the last 10 meetings, but have now lost two in a row to their rivals up north.
Provo, UT 2014 (65-61)
The Cougars welcomed the Utes into the Marriott Center but even 40 points from Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth couldn't give the Cougars the win. The Cougars scored first but couldn't keep the lead as Utah took a quick 19-9 lead. BYU put together runs in the first half of 6-0 and 14-0 but could only take into the locker room a one point lead at 31-30. In the second half the Cougars led by as many four but quickly gave up the lead and fell behind. The Utes lead once again reached double digits at 58-47. With just over a minute to play the Cougars pulled within three at 62-59 but couldn't get any closer as Utah walked out with the 65-61 win. Haws led the Cougars with 23 points while Collinsworth added 17.
The Cougars may have had their best game of the night on Saturday night as they beat a good Belmont team by double digits. The Cougars started slow but picked up the pace and finished strong. The offense clicked, the defense created stops and played well against the three ball, and the inside guys opened up the outside for the Cougars shooters. BYU will need to have more of these games as they continue into their season, but they will still need to step it up a notch in order to beat a very good Utah team on the road.
The team played well but the highlight of the game deserves this spot all on its own. After a review and adjustment by the NCAA on Sunday, it turns out that Kyle Collinsworth ended the game with a triple double for the seventh time in his career. Although anti-climatic due to the review process, it doesn't take away from the fact that he is now the NCAA career leader in the record books. All hail the versatile KC as it turns out his biggest play of the night wasn't the alley oop from Nick Emery.
Another slow start almost doomed the Cougars and it took multiple comebacks before the Cougars took control of the game and put it away. The competition was better so it was expected to be a bit tighter, but slow starts can sink a team under the best circumstances. In an otherwise clean game the Cougars struggled a bit in an area where they normally excel, fast break points. The Cougars only managed four fast break points in the game and that is not nearly enough for a fast paced team like the Cougars. They also need more contributions from the bench. Coach Rose tightened his rotation a bit but the bench still played enough minutes to warrant more than the eight points they recorded.
The match-up everyone is waiting for is Corbin Kaufusi against Jakob Poeltl. Kaufusi has about 20 pounds on Poeltl but gives up about two inches as well. Both players are impact players on the court and it will be good to see how Kaufusi fares against a potential first round pick in the NBA. It will be fun to see the physical play between the guys in the paint so here it to hoping the officials let them play at least a little bit. For more on the match-ups take a look at this position by position preview.
The Keys to Watch
When the Utes have the ball:
Watch for the Utes to throw a lot of Poeltl at the Cougars. When you have a player as good as Poeltl, you use him until you can't use him anymore. But just because the Cougars will have their hands full with the big center, don't forget about Jordan Loveridge. Even with Poeltl averaging 20 points a game, watch for Loveridge to get hit shots and create a little havoc of his own. Watch for Brandon Taylor to be the general on the court and get the ball into his scorers hands. He hasn't quite found his grove this year as he is averaging three assists a game but also is turning the ball over just over two times a game.
Watch for the Cougars to do all they can to stop Poeltl and make the others on the team win the game. Watch for the Cougars defense to be active against the guards, especially Taylor as they try to force a few extra turnovers. The key defensive task for the Cougars will be to limit offensive rebounds. When Utah puts Poeltl and Kyle Kuzma on the floor the rebounds become sparse. Watch for the Cougars to focus on getting the defensive rebounds so the Utes second chance points are limited.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to once again work from the inside out. The Cougar big men may not necessarily have a bunch of points but they will work the paint as they open draw the defense into the middle, giving the Cougars shooters the space they need to hit outside shots. Watch for the Cougars to use the extra pass to get a better sot than the previous one. Watch for Collinsworth to receive much of the Utes attention so watch for the other guys to pick up the slack and make plays.
Watch for the Utes defenders to play physical with the Cougars as they try to force rushed and off target shots. Watch for the Utah big guys to protect the paint and force BYU to pass out of the middle and take longer shots. The Cougars have gradually improved their free throw shooting so the Utes physical game plan won't be as much to send the Cougars to the line as much as it will be to disrupt the offense and tempo.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 8 pm MST
Where: Huntsman Center-Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: PAC12 Network
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here