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What you need to know: BYU vs San Diego preview

BYU will face San Diego twice this week. Thursday on the road will be the first.

Duda Sanadze leads San Diego in points per game.
Duda Sanadze leads San Diego in points per game.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The BYU Cougars will continue their road trip with a visit to the San Diego Toreros for their first game this season. Thanks to a late December tournament in Hawaii, the Cougars ended up with a quirky schedule. While the Cougars were playing in Hawaii, the rest of the league was starting league play. The results are now a double dose of the Toreros this week. The Cougars have won three of the last four against San Diego and hold an overall record of 9-3.

San Diego, CA 2015 (77-74 Loss)

In a game where the Cougars had the lead for most of the game, they couldn't finish it off and fell to the Toreros in the final minutes. The Cougars fell behind by seven early but came back to take the lead and kept it until a 13-2 run by San Diego gave the Toreros the lead for good. The Cougars had their chances to come back but couldn't make the stops necessary, and a Collinsworth shot to tie the game rolled off the rim. Tyler Haws led all players with 20 points and Collinsworth added 13 to go along with his nine rebounds and three assists. Skyler Halford was the only other Cougar to score in double-digits as he added 12.

Provo, UT 2015 (75-62)

On senior night in Provo the Cougars were led by their star senior Haws when he scored 28 and pulled down five rebounds. The opening didn't look to good for the Cougars as it took them almost seven minutes to score their first points, but were lucky to be only down by seven. The Cougars would crawl back in and take their first lead at 12-11 with under 10 left in the half. The last 10 minutes were better as they ended up leading 33-28 at the half. The Cougars would come out of the half determined to win the game and started on a 12-2 run that put the lead in double digits and the Cougars never looked back. In the 75-62 win Anson Winder added 15 points as he finished his time in the Marriott Center.

The Outlook

The Cougars earned their first weekend sweep on the road in conference play and did it in convincing fashion. Against San Francisco they scored 114 points and then followed it up with 96 at Santa Clara. The Cougars shooters are rolling right now and have only one road game left in conference play. The Cougars will look to keep up their shooting for one last regular season road game before finishing up with three at home. All four games are winnable, but it starts with winning in San Diego.

The Positives

Who knew that after the performance from Nick Emery against Pacific that he would tear it up on the road. Following up a 37 point game against the Dons, Emery decided to just put up another 31 against the Broncos. This time is was on a more human 13-21 and only 3-8 from behind the arc, but as a freshman scoring in the 30's twice after a horrendous home game shows just how much moxy he has. It also shows that when Emery plays well, so does the Cougar offense.

The Negatives

The biggest negative that came out of the Santa Clara game is the lack of scoring by the bench. Once again the bench was given some extended minutes but were unable to put up points. Of the 96 points by the Cougars, they were only able to get nine from the second wave of players. Nine points in 65 minutes of play just isn't enough of a contribution on offense to make anyone feel comfortable if the starters need to sit for any reason. The Cougars will need to have more help from Zac Seljaas and Jordan Chatman as the season winds down or the post season will end early for the Cougars.

The Keys to Watch

When the Toreros have the ball:

Watch for a much slower tempo than the Cougars are used to, or like. The Toreros only average 61 points per game and only have one player that scores in double digits. Watch for Duda Sanadze to take the majority of the shots as he has almost double the shots of the next player. Sanadze averages almost 12 points per game but only shots about 38% from the field. Watch for Sanadze to get the ball from Vasa Pusica in an attempt to run some sort of offense from the half court set. Pusica leads the team in assists, but he tops out at just over two per game. With the desire for the possessions in the game to be kept at a minimum, watch for the Toreros to bleed every last second out of the clock before taking a shot, limiting the Cougars ability to run.

Watch for the Cougars defense to try and exploit a few areas of the Toreros offense, specifically rebounds and turnovers. The Cougars are bigger and stronger and will look to go after every rebound, keeping the second chance points to a minimum. The Toreros top rebounder pulls down less than six rebounds per game so the Cougars big men should be able to grab rebounds without a problem on the missed shot. The Toreros also average 13 turnovers per game so watch for the Cougars to get their hands in the lanes and deflect, and steal, passes in order to get some fast break points.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to continue the inside first play as they can easily run this from the half court set. The Cougars will try and speed up the pace of the game but if they can't, the big men should get a number of inside touches, leading to points in the paint or open shots from outside. Watch for the Cougars shooters to take an aggressive approach early to try and set the tempo and make San Diego catch up. The Cougars want to run and if they can take control early, the game could be over quickly. If the offense can't hit early shots and run at their pace, they could very well let the Toreros hang around.

Watch for the Toreros to play physical as they try to slow down the Cougars offense. San Diego plays deep into their bench so they have an almost unlimited supply of fouls if they want to use them. If they can't stop the Cougars by bodying them up, watch for them to stop them by fouling and putting the poor shooting Cougars to the free throw line. Not only will this limit the Cougars ability to score, it will disrupt the tempo of the game and prevent the Cougars shooters from getting into any consistent rhythm.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 9 pm MST

Where: Jenny Craig Pavilion-San Diego, CA

TV: ESPNU

Internet: www.watchespn.com

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

Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here