The BYU Cougars and Pacific Tigers played against each other for the first time in 1961 with BYU winning 69-67 in Provo. Since then they have played eight more times and had split the series four games each until BYU won earlier this year to take the 6-4 advantage. Last year was the first year that Pacific was in the West Coast Conference so if history is any indication, the teams will have many good battles to come. The two games played last year went as the winning percentage suggested, with each team winning at home and by a similar score.
Stockton, CA 2014 (89-82 loss)
Matt Carlino did everything he could to give the Cougars a road win over Pacific, but his 28 points were not enough as BYU fell 89-82. BYU started hot as they went up 9-0 but the Tigers would respond with a 12-0 run as they took their first lead at 14-11. The game of streaks continued as BYU found themselves part of a 12-2 run as they took the lead at 20-17 and led by three, 38-35, at the half. Both teams would go on small runs in the second half but Pacific started to extend their lead as it hit nine before Haws hit a three to cut the deficit to four with under 10 to play. BYU once again allowed the game to get away from themselves as Pacific built their lead to 15 at 78-63. BYU would find themselves within two possessions with under two minutes left, but couldn't make the shots and fell on the road.
Stockton, CA 2015 (93-80)
Kyle Collinsworth tied the NCAA record with his 4th triple double of the season as the Cougars knocked off the Tigers on the road 93-80. The Cougars took the lead early and never relinquished it, although they came close a couple of times. The Cougars would build up a six point lead before the Tigers closed within one but a 6-0 run by the Cougars gave them the 43-34 lead at the half. BYU quickly built up a 12 point lead in the second half and kept the Tigers at bay until a Tigers run pulled the game within four points. The Tigers would get no closer as the Cougar would go on a 10-0 and then a 7-0 run before winning by 13. Collinsworth finished the game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals. Tyler Haws added 26 points, Chase Fischer added 18 points, and Skyler Halford added 12.
The Tigers are coming into the Marriott Center on a six game losing streak and the Cougars are now coming off a dominating win over Saint Mary's at home. The game is ripe for the Cougars to run away with and earn their 20th win of the year in the process. Only hours ago fans were looking for for despair and an NIT run, and now fans are once again talking about hopes of an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
In this game their was so much good that is it hard to focus on one or two things but the post men deserve to be hailed for the way they played against the Gaels. The number that really sticks out is the six blocks (seven overall) which showed other teams that BYU has the ability to defend the paint. The balanced scoring once again helped as four players scored in double-digits with Collinsworth and Halford leading the way at 17 each. In all the stats were all in favor of the Cougars and it may have been their most dominant game of the season.
The lone key stat that the Cougars didn't win was the points in the paint. The Gaels scored 32 points in the paint compared to the 28 by the Cougars and much of that had to do with Waldow being a beast inside. 32 points is better than expected, but still way too many points for Coach Rose to feel comfortable with. The Cougars will continue to work on it but don't expect it to be a rapid turnaround.
The Keys to Watch
When the Tigers have the ball:
Watch for the Tigers to slow the tempo of the game as they play a half-court offense and try to run the clock down. Currently the Tigers only average 65 points per game and will try to grind it out with the Cougars. The Tigers tried to run with the Cougars in the first game and allowed the Cougars to score 93. Watch for them do a better job of this on offense this time around. Generally the ball will be in the hands of either sophomore guard T.J. Wallace or junior guard Dulani Robinson as they are the team's key players. Wallace is the team's leading scorer with 13.7 per game, which is over a point more than when they met the last time, and rebounder with 5.7. He also has taken over the lead in assists from Robinson with 2.8 per game. Robinson is second in scoring with 9.6 points per game, just a hair less than last time. Watch for these two players to be the impact players for the team as they try to put the game on their shoulders. Eric Thompson was a surprise factor in the last match-up as he scored 13 and pulled down 6 rebounds, both more than his average. Look for him to be a good third option this time around.
Watch for the Cougars to rattle Wallace and force him to make bad passes as they try to increase his 3 turnovers per game. He was right on that number the last game so look for him to be exploited again. Watch for the Cougars to play physical inside as they work to give the post men difficult shots and free throw trips where they shoot a low percentage. The Cougars are going to look at the 64% free throw shooting for the season as a more accurate gauge than the 81% free throw shooting in the last match-up. Watch for the Cougars to work on the second chance points and limit the number of offensive rebounds the Tigers will pick up. The Tigers grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in round one, don't expect that to happen again.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Over the last few games the team has moved away from the four guard line-up as Coach Rose has wanted to take some of the pressure off his guards. It has helped that the post players have started to play a bit better and have taken a bigger role. Watch for the Cougars to continue to run the floor and throw up the three every chance they can get, but don't blink or you might miss a few passes into the post and possibly even a big man finishing it. Watch for the Cougars to go harder for the offensive rebound as they try to score on second chance points.
Watch for the Tigers to force turnovers as they scrap and play hard to get to the ball. Last game they forced the Cougars to turn the ball over 15 times and will look to capitalize on the turnovers as they slow down the game. Watch for the Tigers to play physical with the guards before they get into the paint and force the Cougars to shoot from outside or work for their inside shots. If the guards do get to the rim, don't be surprised if the Tigers foul instead of go for the block since they only block 2.5 shots per game.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 7 pm MST
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