The BYU Cougars and the Creighton Bluejays have met nine times on the hardwood. The first meeting took place in 1931 with the last meeting taking place in 2010. BYU has won six of the nine games and have no intention of letting the 10th meeting go the way of the Bluejays.
Omaha, Nebraska 2010 (77-65)
In the freshman season of Kyle Collinsworth the Cougars travelled to take on the Blujays in a tournament setting, and they didn't disappoint. Collinsworth used this game to show fans what could be expected from him as he recorded his first double-double of his career as he scored 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Brandon Davies had a career night as well with 24 point and six rebounds. The Cougars led for most of the game and built a 12 point lead in the first half behind the play of Davies and Collinsworth. The Bluejays wouldn't roll over and pulled within six at the half, and within three early in the second half. With just under 12 minutes left in the game the Cougars were hit in the mouth by Doug McDermott who led a Creighton charge that tied the game. Jimmer Fredette had no intention of letting the Bluejays steal the win so he sparked a 10-0 run following the tie, leading the Cougars to the 75-63 win.
The Cougars won a battle on Friday night as the Virginia Tech Hokies gave the Cougars all they could handle. The lead never reached double digits for either team and lead changes were taking place up into the final minutes. BYU came out on top but it took a team effort, some timely shooting, and a little bit of luck to move on to the NIT Tournament Quarterfinals. Not only did the win keep the Cougars playing, but it also gave the Cougars one more home game.
Key second half free throws and timely shooting loomed large in this game. The Cougars hit their free throws down the stretch, with one exception from Chase Fisher, and the Hokies didn't. Two huge misses by the Hokies gave BYU the chance to win it from the free throw line, instead of having to hit a game winning shot. The Cougar freshman stepped up in the second half as Zac Seljaas ended up perfect from the field and the free throw line in the winning effort.
The Cougars struggled to take advantage of an inside presence. The Hokies were all over the Cougars as they drove into the lane and tried to hit short shots. It wasn't a lack of effort from the Cougars but maybe a combined result of the Virginia Tech players presence at all times. One of the plays that showed exactly this was when Kyle Davis missed a short shot, grabbed his own rebounds among a host of Hokies, missed again, grabbed the rebound once again from five Hokies, and promptly missed one more time. The Cougars normally don't miss quite as much inside as they did against Virginia Tech, so if they can prevent a repeat performance they should be able to take advantage.
The Keys to Watch
When the Bluejays have the ball:
Watch for Maurice Watson Jr. to have a prominent role in the Blue Jays offense as he leads all Creighton scorers with 14.4 points per game. He also dishes the ball out as he involves his other teammates. Not only does he have the ability to score at will, he finds his teammates in good positions and it shows in his 6.6 assists per game. Cole Huff is the next scoring threat at 11.3 points per game and will look to help shoulder the offensive load. Don't sleep on the Bluejays top rebounder as Geoffrey Groselle pulls down six rebounds per game and puts up almost 11 points per game. Groselle can play a huge role in the offense as he proved against Wagner when he scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds in only 20 minutes of play.
Watch for the Cougars to focus their efforts on taking Watson Jr. and Grosell out of the game early and force other players to step up. The Cougars know that the Bluejays can, and will, score points in their offense. The Cougars job is to limit the chances they have to one shot and then getting the rebound. Watch for the Cougars to put their hands in the lanes and force bad passes that can turn into Cougar opportunities.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to keep playing their fast style of offense as they don't give the Bluejays much time to get into a defensive set. The Cougars played a bit slower than they would have liked against the Hokies and will try to get back to their run and gun ways. Watch for the inside shots to fall more frequently than they did last game, giving Davis and Corbin Kaufusi more confidence as they follow the game plan. Watch for the Cougars to establish the inside game early and take advantage from the outside later.
Watch for the Bluejays to force extra passes by the Cougars, not allowing them the shot the shooters want. The ability to force more passing will take the Cougars out of their game and slow down the offense. Watch for the Bluejays to try and rattle the Cougar guards and force uncharacteristic passes to turn into bad turnovers. Finally watch for the Blujays to focus on outrebounding the Cougars on both sides of the floor. The Cougars were outrebounded by the Hokies and so the Bluejays will try to do the same.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 7 pm MST
Where: Marriott Center-Provo, Utah
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
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