The BYU Cougars will start their final home-stand as they host the San Diego Toreros meeting for their first game this season on Thursday. 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 now won four of the last five against San Diego and hold an overall record of 10-3.
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.
San Diego, CA 2016 (69-67)
In the final road game of the season for the Cougars, things got ugly after falling down by double digits early. The Cougars shooting was one of the worst of the season and they only managed 27 points in the first half. Even with the poor showing in the half, the Cougars ended it on an 8-0 run and only trailed by five. The Cougars came out strong in the second half and ended up going on a 9-3 run to start the half, and took their first lead since 2-0. The Cougars could never quite put the Toreros away however and San Diego hung with BYU up until the end, giving themselves a shot that nobody expected them to have. The Toreros kept it close in the end and had their chances, but couldn't quite pull off the upset at home. In the 69-67 win the Cougars were led by Kyle Collinsworth who scored 25 and had 12 rebounds, while Chase Fischer added 14. Nick Emery added 12 and was the only other player in double digit scoring.
The game at San Diego should be locked away in a vault and never watched again. It was ugly from the beginning and stayed ugly until the end. The Cougars struggled to find their shot and the result was playing a slow paced tempo that favored the Toreros. In the end the Cougars did just enough to walk out with a win, but not enough to instill confidence for the coming games.
Collinsworth was once again the shining star on Thursday night. In the lackluster 27 point first half, the Cougars were kept alive and in the game because of his play on both ends of the court. Although he only shot 7-20, he made a living at the free-throw line. Hitting 10-14 was huge down the stretch in a game that the Cougars hung on to win by two.
The play of the post players was horrendous. Kyle Davis and Bronson Kaufusi combined for 11 of the 69 points, leaving the shooters with contested shots all night. The entire team shot poorly, but if the post players can't help out, it puts the entire team at risk and allows less than stellar teams to stay in the game.
The Keys to Watch
When the Toreros have the ball:
Watch for the Toreros to follow the same game plan in Provo as they did at home. The slow pace threw the Cougars completely off their game and limited transition baskets. Once again watch for the slow pace to limit possessions for both teams, but look for the Toreros to limit their scoring droughts that allowed BYU back into the game on Thursday. Watch for Duda Sanadze and Vasa Pusica to once again lead the team on the offensive side, forcing the Cougars to defend for a full shot clock. Watch for the offense to run a bit more crisp the second time around as they limit the painful turnovers that plagued the team in the first game.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to get back to their inside-out play as they got away from it in the first half of the last game, and ended up going down double digits early. When the ball goes to the big men first, it opens up the shot for Fischer, Emery, and Zac Saljaas. The Cougar shooters didn't shoot well at all so watch for them to hit more shots in the friendly confines of the Marriott Center, trying to open up a lead early. Watch for BYU to find a way to control the tempo, unlike in San Diego, and force the Toreros to play the Cougars game.
Watch for the Toreros to pick up where they left off with the physical play. The Cougars ended up shooting over 30 free throws and didn't shoot lights out. The Toreros will need to make the Cougars earn points at the line, and not via open jump shots. Another benefit of the physical play and fouls was keeping the Cougars out of rhythm and fighting an uphill battle. Watch for the defense to force the tempo to slow down as they limit fast break opportunities, and force half court sets from the Cougars. The defensive game plan worked for most of the game on Thursday and so they will try it again, looking for a different result.
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