The BYU Cougars and Weber State Wildcats will continue their series on Saturday, which started in 1973. Many would like to call it an in-state rivalry but the Cougars have dominated the series as they have won 30 of the 40 games played. Not only does BYU lead the series but they have won 12 straight against Weber State, meaning that Coach Dave Rose has never lost to the Wildcats. The last time the Wildcats won was in the Dee Events Center in Ogden. In fact, the odds of the Wildcats winning go up drastically when they play at home since they have never won in the Marriott Center. Amazingly enough this means that BYU has a .500 record on the road against the Wildcats as they are 10-10 after the win in Ogden last year..
Ogden, Utah (76-60)
In the Dee Events Center the Cougars used a balanced attack to beat up on the Wildcats as they saw three players score in double digits. BYU led by double digits most of the game but Weber State was able to pull within seven or eight points a couple of different times but could never finish a run to get closer. The closest they got in the second half was eight before the Cougars went on their own run to take a 20 point lead that eventually led to the 76-60 final. Tyler Haws led the teams with 19 points while Isaac Neilson scored a career high 15 while adding six rebounds, two steals and a block.
For the second year in a row the Cougars face off with the Wildcats after a loss to their true rival, the Utah Utes. This time the Cougars haven't progressed as far as a team so the game is much less lopsided as in years past. The Cougars may have played their worst game of the season on Saturday and were out-coached, out-hustled, and overall just out-played. The good news is it will be very difficult to play as poorly as they did on Wednesday so Saturday should be a much better game.
The Cougars showed a little fight after falling behind in the first half by 24 points. At that point it would have been easy to give up, call it a night and just play the second half by going through the motions. However, these young players buckled up and took whatever Coach Rose said in the locker room to heart and played lights out for the first 12 minutes in the second half. Although the closest the Cougars could pull was seven points, they showed that they are a resilient bunch and if they can avoid slow starts they may never be out of a game.
Once again the Cougars were unable to play a complete 40 minutes and it cost them dearly in the Huntsman Center. Slow starts are becoming normal for the Cougars and the trend must be changed if the Cougars want to win 20 games and compete in the WCC. Coming from behind in a game takes a ton of fight and energy, rarely leading to having enough energy to complete the comeback when facing a large deficit. If BYU can correct this aspect of the game, the rest of the game becomes a bit more simple in the long run.
In the ugly loss the Cougars kept their composure for the majority of the game until young Nick Emery made a horrendous decision that will hurt the Cougars against the Wildcats. In what has become a quite controversial play, Emery clearly lost control of his emotions and took a swing at Brandon Taylor. Not only was it uncalled for, but it also cost the Cougars one of their young stars for the game on Saturday. Even though young, the players need to learn that losing their temper will hurt the team much longer than the next play or even the rest of the current game as they can, and will, earn suspensions.
BYU Center Corbin Kaufusi should be looking at his match-up against Wildcat Joel Bolomboy as a redemption match-up after struggling at Utah. Once again he gets to face off against a big guy that has tremendous upside. Wednesday Kaufusi ended up fouling out so it will be interesting to see if he can learn from last game and find a way to defend Bolomboy without getting into foul trouble.
The Keys to Watch
When the Wildcats have the ball:
Watch for the Wildcats to rely on their top two scorers for the majority of their points. Junior guard Jeremy Senglin leads the team with 20.5 points per game and is shooting 58% from behind the three point line. When he doesn't have the ball watch for Bolomboy to try and take over the game. Not only is Bolomboy averaging almost 17 points per game, but he is also averaging over 12 rebounds a game. Watch for him to go after the offensive rebound and earn a few second chance points.
Watch for the Cougars to use Kaufusi and Davis to try and slow down Bolomboy. If the Cougars can take away the rebounds and the inside presence, it will make things much easier on Kyle Collinsworth as he tries to slow down Senglin. With good defenders on the Wildcats best players the chance is there to force the Wildcat's roll players to step up and make a play.
When BYU has the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to once again try to establish an inside presence. The Cougars got away from this type of play last game and it really cost them. In order for the outside shooters like Chase Fischer to be effective the ball must go through the middle first. Kaufusi, Davis, and even Nate Austin need to make plays and score when given the opportunity. As this happens the defense will be pulled into the paint allowing more uncontested shots on the perimeter.
Watch for the Wildcats to put a bit more focus on Collinsworth as they no longer need to worry about Emery making a play inside or outside the paint. The Wildcats don't average a high number of steals per game but they will be getting their hands in the lanes this game as they look to take advantage of younger guys touching the ball and forcing them into turnovers due to their inexperience.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 1:00 PM MST
Where: Vivant Smart Home Arena- Salt Lake City
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here