Saturday night, the BYU Cougars take on the Stanford Cardinal in a series that started in 1969 and has spanned seven games. The Cougars hold the series lead with five wins, including a win in Maples Pavilion last year. Stanford last beat BYU when the teams played in the Maui Invitational in 2004 and are looking for payback from last year.
Stanford, CA 2013 (112-103)
In a game that ended with six Cougars scoring in double digits, it took scoring 112 points to put away the Cardinal in their home arena. Tyler Haws led the team with 31 points and eight rebounds and Matt Carlino added 26 points, Kyle Collinsworth added 14, Nate Austin and Eric Mika each had 12, and Anson Winder finished with 10. The early parts of the game were back and forth but after Haws hit a three pointer to tie the game at 11, BYU went on a 10-2 run. Another 9-0 run led to a 10 point lead. The Cougars would increase the lead in the second half to 19 before Stanford tried to make a game of it and pulled within nine at the end of the game, giving BYU the 112-103 win.
The Cougars have been playing well as their three losses have come by a total of 11 points. Unfortunately, the Cougars best win has been against a struggling Utah State team. The Cougars are coming off a win against another in-state rival, Weber State, but it has yet to be determined if the win cost the Cougars more than they bargained for. Late in the second half the Cougars' top scorer, Haws, came down awkwardly on his ankle and initial estimates suggest he will be out for at least two weeks.
The Cougars shot a scorching 63% from the three point line against the Wildcats as they hit 12-of-19 from behind the arc. The Cougars received unexpected production from Isaac Neilson as he went 4-of-5 from three and ended with 15 points. Chase Fischer also started to find his groove again as he hit 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
The easy answer would be the loss of Haws, however, turnovers would once again cause concern for the Cougars. After only turning the ball over seven times against Utah, the Cougars turned the ball over eight times in the first half alone at Weber State. In all, the Cougars mishandled the ball 16 times, including six steals for the Wildcats. If the Cougars are going to compete with the meat of their schedule, they will need to protect the ball much better than they did last Saturday.
Cougars hampered offense vs Stanford scoring defense
If Haws is sitting on the bench, the Cougars top ranked scoring offense loses almost 24 points a game that will need to be made up by other players. Stanford, on the other hand, gives up less than 63 points a game, putting a premium on the offensive possessions. The question becomes who will step up for the Cougars and hit the shots needed in key moments. The defense will have one less man to worry about so they will force the role players to beat them as they try to limit the key Cougars.
The Keys to Watch
When the Cardinal have the ball:
Watch for the Cardinal to rely on their big three Chasson Randle, Stefan Nastic, and Anthony Brown. Randle leads the team in scoring with over 16 points per game. Nastic, a 6-foot-11 senior, is a big man that can pass the ball as he leads the team with 2.7 assists per game while adding over 14 points and seven rebounds per game. Brown also scores more than 14 points per game along with grabbing over seven rebounds, and handing out two assists. Watch for the offense to go through one of these three players at all times, giving the Cougars fits all over the floor.
Watch for the Cougars to take at least one of the players out of their rhythm. The Cougars should use all the fouls they have as the defend Nastic inside, forcing the 71% free throw shooter to get his points from the line after tiring, physical play. Watch for the Cougars to frustrate Randle when he has the ball, forcing bad passes and off balance shots, taking advantage of his three turnovers per game.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Much of the game plan will depend on the availability of Haws. The most likely scenario will have Haws sitting on the bench. If this is the case, watch for the Cougars to turn to Collinsworth, Fischer, and Winder to carry the bulk of the scoring. Winder has been playing a good portion of the minutes so he would jump into the starting role and continue his aggressive play. Watch for the Cougars to shoot less mid-range shots as they will drive or shoot the three to compensate for the loss of their best shooter.
Watch for the Cardinal to close off the lane as they force Fischer and the rest of the Cougars to shoot the lower percentage three pointer. BYU hit 53% of their three pointers last year against the Cardinal and Stanford will gamble that it won't happen again. Stanford will be willing to concede the three as long as they don't allow the easy bucket at the rim. Watch for Stanford to up their physicality as the Cougars free-throw shooting will also take a hit with Haws on the bench.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 9 pm MST
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