On Tuesday the Mean Green of North Texas will pay Provo a visit and face BYU for the third time. The previous two visits were part of the Cougar Classics in 1980 and 1989. BYU won the first game 108-92 and the second 97-68 to hold a 2-0 lead in the series.
After an impressive win against in-state rival Utah State, BYU is looking to build on the positives, and negate the negatives. Eight games into the season the Cougars are starting to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and can work to game plan around them. BYU is now 6-2 with losses to ranked teams while North Texas sits at 5-3. This game should be over early as the Mean Green doesn't seem to match up with the Cougars in any meaningful categories.
In a very physical game, Eric Mika and Nate Austin combined for only one foul in 59 minutes of game play. They were able to find a way to play aggressive and physical and not end up on the bench due to foul trouble. The team is much better when they can rely on Mika and Austin to be on the floor in key stretches.
The spark that is provided off the bench by Frank Bartley IV and Skyler Halford can't be measured by stats alone. Each time they stepped on the court the energy level picked up and the 50/50 plays started to go the Cougars way. That being said, Bartley still contributed 14 points and five rebounds while Halford put up eight points and a rebound.
The three point shooting is has got to be a worry for the coaches. The Cougars had 12 attempts and hit two for a 16.7 percent shooting percentage. In this game the missed didn't cost them the game but it will cause problems as they continue into the season.
It seems like a broken record but the free throw shooting again could have cost the team. Tyler Haws has continued to impress while going 8-8 but the rest of the team shot 11-19. Kyle Collinsworth hasn't been known for his free throw shooting but 25 percent for a guard is unacceptable.
The Keys to Watch
When North Texas has the ball: The Mean Green like to play small. Of the six players averaging at least 20 minutes a game, only one is not a guard. Keith Coleman, the only forward in that mix, is big at 6'10" and 250 pounds, but doesn't appear to be as athletic as they will need against Mika and Austin. He is averaging just fewer than six rebounds a game and just over six points a game. The team doesn't share the ball much as they are averaging less assists then turnovers. Look for them to run and use their largest strength, depth. All but one player on the roster is averaging at least 13 minutes a game. Look for the Cougars to use their size to cause havoc with the smaller line up and to have a distinct rebounding advantage.
When BYU has the ball: When BYU has the ball look for them to use their size to play physical and get to the rim. This could be a good game to get the free throw practicing down as they should have their way in the paint and with their speed. Look for Mika to get the ball early and often at the rim and look for the team to have a number of second chance opportunities. Look for North Texas to utilize their bench and foul instead of giving up easy baskets. Look for them to minimize the fast break points and find ways to slow down the Cougars' fast pace.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 7pm 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