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What you need to know: BYU vs Portland preview

The Cougars will take on the Pilots after a big win in Spokane.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The Saturday match-up between the BYU Cougars and the Portland Pilots will be the 15th between the two schools.  The first meeting took place in 1957. The Cougars swept the series last year, which included two regular season games and a meeting in the WCC Tournament. The Cougars now hold a 13-1 record over Portland.

Portland, OR 2015 (82-69)

While on the road in Portland the Cougars found their new all-time scoring leader as Tyler Haws passed Jimmer Fredette as the career high scorer for the BYU. With his seventh of his 21 points Haws recorded point number 2,600. The rest of the Cougars weren't about to waste the performance by Haws as they dominated the second half to win on the road. The game consisted of runs from both teams, it just so happened that the Cougars enjoyed more of them than the Pilots. In the first half the Pilots had runs of 6-0 and 9-0 en-route to a 41-33 lead at the half. The Cougars would respond in the second half with runs of 11-2, 15-4, and 13-0 as they closed out the 82-69 win.  The Pilots made one run, fueled by a 7-0 run, as they pulled within two points with six minutes left but could never make up the ground to take back the lead.

Las Vegas, NV 2015 (84-70)

Playing in the Semi-Finals of the West Coast Conference Tournament the Cougars had no intention of playing the same type of game they did in Portland, and Kyle Collinsworth would lead the way. With 13 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists Collinsworth earned his sixth career triple double and tied Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Anderson for the NCAA record. The Cougars used an early 9-2 run to take control at 23-14 and never looked back. With five minutes left in the half the Cougars took a 20 point lead and maintained it through most of the second half. The Pilots tried to make it a game late but still fell to the Cougars by 14, 84-70.

The Outlook

The Cougars earned a tremendous win on Thursday as they knocked off the Gonzaga Bulldogs in an ugly, but important game. With the win the Cougars are now 4-1 in the WCC and have won four straight. Even more important is that they keep pace with the Bulldogs in the loss column. Although ugly the Cougars showed some positive signs that will be key in future games.

The Positives

For the first time this year we can look at a game that the Cougars won against a quality team, after being down double digits. The Cougars were down 13 points in the second half and came back to take the lead in the last two minutes and won on the back of their defense. The offense was a bit off but the defense showed up and recorded five steals and seven blocks, including the Nate Austin block to seal the victory. It appears that the team is growing up and is finally finding a way to make a difference when needed.

The Negatives

The Cougars had a very off night on offense but were able to still pull out a win. This was due in part to the last two three point shots that fell, but before that it was a scary night from behind the arc. The Cougars missed their first 12 three point shots of the night, which helped lead to a shooting percentage of 17.6. The Cougars won't win many games with that percentage, but to win against Gonzaga softens the blow a little bit. Don't expect this to be the norm for BYU but it will rear its ugly head now and then.

The Keys to Watch

When the Pilots have the ball:

Watch for the Pilots to play a fast tempo offense as they average 79 points a game. They tend to spread the scoring around as they have seven players that average over six points per game. The top two are the only ones in double digits as Alec Wintering averages 17.6 and Bryce Pressley scores 13.9 per game. Watch for Wintering to take control for the Pilots as he will dish the ball almost six times a game. On top of making his own shot, he has an uncanny ability to create for his teammates.

Watch for the Cougars to focus on taking Wintering out of the game and building on his three turnovers per game. Watch for BYU to play physical and force the Pilots to work for their shots and rebounds. Watch for the Cougars to dominate on the boards as the Pilots only average 37 per game, and their top rebounder sits around five per game.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to have a bounce back game from the three as they struggled with the shot against Gonzaga. Watch for Nick Emery, Fischer, and Zac Seljaas to show that the last game was a fluke. Watch for Austin, Kyle Davis, and Corbin Kaufusi to rule the offensive boards and get second chance points that could determine the outcome of the game.

Watch for the Pilots to play physical inside as they push the Cougars just out of the paint where the shots seem to drop with less frequency. In order for the Pilots to compete on the boards, watch for them to play the position battle before the ball is ever shot. The Pilots must secure the rebounds if they want to stay in the game, so watch for that to be a focus on Saturday.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 4 pm MST

Where: Chiles Center-Portland, OR

TV: Root Sports

Radio (BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here