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What you need to know: BYU vs Central Michigan (basketball edition)

In the first meeting between the Cougars and the Chippewas, BYU will be looking to rebound after their third loss of the year.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The BYU Cougars and the Central Michigan Chippewas have never met on the hardwood.

This year, the two teams have played a common opponent in Weber State, both at "neutral" sites. CMU took on the Wildcats at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida while BYU played them at a "neutral" site at Vivint Smart Home Arena, which was basically a home game for the Cougars.

The Chippewas ended up losing to the Wildcats by 3 after taking a six point lead into halftime. BYU, on the other hand, led for most of the game and allowed the Wildcats to creep back to within five after missing five of their 10 free-throws in the final minutes.

So with one common opponent, BYU claimed a five-point win while Central Michigan lost by three.

The Outlook

Like they did against Utah, the Cougars once again dug a deep hole for themselves against a quality Pac-12 team that was bigger and stronger than the Cougars in a trip to Colorado. Finding themselves down by 25 in the second half was the low point of the game, but once again they fought back as they pulled within six points. You can't argue with the attitude they show in their comebacks, but they need to learn how to not get into that situation in the first place.

The Positives

For the first time this season the Cougars really killed it from the free throw line. Hitting at 78% as they went 14-of-18 was impressive. The Cougars have struggled all year with free-throws and hitting a high percentage on more than just a few shots shows remarkable improvement by the players, and we can only hope that it will continue. Just like rebounds, free throws can win or a lose a game for the Cougars and this type of performance can win the close ones.

The Negatives

Once again, the Cougars lost the rebounding battle and lost the game. The Cougars were out rebounded by eight boards against Colorado, possibly leading to a 16-point swing. Rebounds are one of the most important aspects of the game and the Cougars can't continue to be out hustled on the boards and expect to win the games. As long as the rebounds aren't going the Cougars way, the games turn into too-close wins, or tough losses.

The Match-up

The match-up of the game comes via the two guard lines. The Chippewas have four players that score in double-digits, and three of them are guards, so guard-line defense will definitely matter. The three point shot isn't the Chippewas bread and butter, so the further out the Cougars guards can push CMU away from the hoop, the better off the Cougar D (and rebounders) will be. CMU guards shoot well from the free throw line.

The Keys to Watch

When the Chippewas have the ball:

Watch for the Chippewas star player, Chris Fowler, to play floor general. He will have his hands on the ball on almost every possession of the game. Although he has only played two games due to injury, he averages 17 points per game and five assists.

When Fowler is distributing the ball watch for Braylon Rayson and Rayshaw Simmons to be the benefactors. Rayson averages 16.6 points per game while Simmons averages 14.2. Simmons also likes to make the extra pass as he averages 5.8 assists per game.

Watch for the Cougars to pack the inside to force longer shots. On paper, BYU is a much better rebounding team so if they can force missed shots by the Chippewas, the Cougars rebounders will have the chance to grab a few and turn them into fast break points. Watch for the Cougars big men to protect the paint as the guards will continue to try and get easier shots inside the paint, but the size of Corbin Kaufusi, Nate Austin, and Kyle Davis should limit the points in the paint.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to attack the rim. There will be a number of plays run for Davis and Kaufusi to create space for Kyle Collinsworth, Chase Fischer, and Nick Emery. Cougar guards will be able to use their size to overpower their defenders from anywhere on the floor.

Watch for the Chippewas to get their hands in the lanes as they attempt to make the Cougars pay for any extra passes. Averaging five steals per game, the defense will look to take advantage of the turnovers before they have to try and fight for a rebound. Although the Chippewas average three blocks per game, watch for them to try and limit the Cougars before they get into the paint so they don't have to rely on blocks on bigger Cougar players.

Broadcasting Details

Time: 7 pm MST

Where: Marriott Center-Provo, Utah

TV: BYUtv

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

Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here