When the BYU Cougars take on the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans on Tuesday, it will be the first meeting between the schools. The Trojans play in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for fifth place last year with a 15-17 overall record. The Trojans will be coming off a Sunday home game against University of Arkansas Monticello and will be the Cougars first opponent in the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
An exciting game against Long Beach State provided fans a glimpse into the arsenal of Dave Rose, but may have provided just as many questions as it did answers. Without question, the team has the ability to be exciting and has the talent to be special. How the team meshes and plays together will determine how far they will go and so expect to be in it for the long haul.
The offense was the positive of the night as they put up 95 points and had five players in double digits. Tyler Haws led the team with 21 while Skyler Halford added 18, Chase Fischer added 17, Anson Winder added 12, and Isaac Neilson added 10. The team shared the ball as they had 19 assists on the 28 made baskets. Halford led the team in assists with five and Fischer added five. The biggest area of improvement may have been the free throw shooting. The Cougars went to the line 33 times and knocked down 28 for an 85 percent night. Hitting free throws was a difference in this game and will continue to be a key in future games if they can continue to knock them down.
Much like last year the negatives again come down to defense. Sure the Cougars out rebounded the 49ers, caused 18 turnovers, and held LBSU to 20 free throws on the night. However, giving up 90 points in the Marriott Center is unacceptable and is a recipe for home loses. Even with a tremendous size difference the Cougars only recorded three blocks, gave up 11 offensive rebounds, and allowed LBSU to shoot 54 percent from the field and 59 percent from behind the arc. The Cougars need to use their size and defend the corner three or it could be a season riddled with excitement, but heartbreak.
The Cougars will once again have the size and the talent to dominate near the basket. Unfortunately the Cougars failed to do that against LBSU and so they can look for redemption against the Trojans. UALR will throw out Roger Woods to try and out rebound everyone on the floor. In his last game he recorded 13 rebounds and seven points in 32 minutes. Coming in at 6-5 he is a bit shorter than the players he will face in BYU, but he has a nose for the ball and can out hustle opponents. The Cougar forwards will need to work to get rebounds and to keep him out of the paint. It will be interesting to see who the aggressor in this match-up is.
James Reid vs Kyle Collinsworth:
Reid comes in at 6-3 and led the team in points and added three assists in their last game. He should matchup against Collinsworth and will try to use his quickness to frustrate Collinsworth into mistakes. Reid will shoot from anywhere on the floor and ended up 3-7 from behind the arc last game and so Collinsworth will need to make a point to get his hands up and force the ball out of Reid's hands. On the other hand, Reid can only hope to slow down Collinsworth as nobody has found a way to stop him. Collinsworths skill set alone will give him the chance to take over the game, so Reid will need to find a way to get the ball before Collinsworth puts his hands on it.
The Keys to Watch
When the Trojans have the ball:
Watch for the Trojans to share the ball on offense. Nine players scored in their last game with Reid leading the team with 12. Four players reached double digits and four others had at least seven points. The team tends to play a guard heavy game and so the ball can be shot from anywhere on the floor. The Trojans aren't afraid to shoot the ball from behind the arc as they went 11-24 last game. Watch for the team to share the ball as they had 17 assists on 29 baskets, showing that they can make the extra pass.
Watch for the Cougars to force the Trojans to hit the outside shot. The Cougar big guys should alter or block a few shots early that will force the Trojans to step back and take a lower percentage shot in fear of not getting the ball over Nate Austin, Isaac Neilson, and Luke Worthington. Watch for the Cougars to get their hands into the lanes as they create turnovers, and fast break opportunities. When the ball does get into the post watch for the Cougars to force turnovers as the combination of Woods and James White gave up eight of the Trojans 12 turnovers last week.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to find the open guy and not worry about who is getting the shots. Tyler Haws will get his points regardless, but the others proved they can hit shots as well. Fischer went 4-8 from behind the arc and 5-5 from the free throw line. Any one of the Cougars can hit a shot outside the paint, or drive it and draw a foul. Watch for the Cougars to continue to test their three point shot as they hit on almost 46 percent of them on Saturday and would like to continue to utilize it in their game. Watch for Collinsworth to continue to work his way back into more minutes as he tests his legs and game. He played 13 minutes last week and so expect that to go up to 15-18 if needed in this game.
Watch for the Trojans to go after the Cougars shots. Not only did they record seven blocks, they also grabbed 27 defensive rebounds. The Trojans know that giving the Cougars second and third chances will be the death penalty, so look for them to get things done the first time around. The Trojans only snagged three steals last week, but still created 17 turnovers so look for them to hustle after the ball and force the Cougars to do the same.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 7:30 pm MST-November 18th
Where: Marriott Center-Provo, Utah
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here