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What you need to know: BYU vs Portland preview (Basketball Edition)

Looking to rebound after a loss to Gonzaga, the Cougars will be facing a much improved Pilots team.

Thomas van der Mars will help lead the Pilots against the Cougars.
Thomas van der Mars will help lead the Pilots against the Cougars.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The Monday match-up between the BYU Cougars and the Portland Pilots will be the 12th between the two schools.  The first meeting took place in 1957. The Cougars lost for the first time to the Pilots last year and now hold a 10-1 record over Portland as they look to face each other at least twice this season.

Portland, OR 2014 (114-110 Loss)

Behind 48 points from Tyler Haws and 25 points from Matt Carlino, the Cougars played a heartbreaker in Portland as the game went into three overtimes before being decided in favor of the Pilots. BYU never quite found its rhythm as Portland led most of the game and held an 11-point lead in the second half. In the first overtime, the Pilots held a seven-point lead with under a minute to go before BYU went on an 8-1 run to end the period. In the second overtime, the Cougars held as much as an eight-point lead but gave up a four-point lead with 44 seconds left as they missed key free throws to keep the Pilots in the game. Portland relied on defense in the third overtime as they held BYU scoreless for the first three and a half minutes of the period, and the Cougars couldn't recover as they fell 114-110.

Provo, UT 2014 (89-72)

The Cougars bounced back after their first loss to the Pilots as Matt Carlino hit eight three pointers as he scored a career high 30 points in the home win. Anson Winder added 19 points in the victory that BYU led for good after a 10-2 Cougars run that gave the Cougars a 12-7 lead. Unlike the game in Portland, the Cougars built up an early lead in the first half and extended it to 25 in the second half. The 89-72 win gave the Cougars an unblemished conference record at home and a 14-1 home record for the season.

The Outlook

After a close loss to the 8th ranked team in the country, the Cougars are disappointed but feeling like they can compete. Starting off 0-1 in conference play isn't ideal, but losing to Gonzaga isn't a bad loss. Once again the Cougars have shown that they can compete with the big boys, but haven't shown that they can beat them. The Cougars have lost four games this year by a total of 18 points, and three of those teams were ranked in the top 15.

The Positives

Once again the Cougars started off slow but they once again proved that they wouldn't roll over and give up. Being down 16 points early the Cougars could have given up and called it a day. Instead, they came back, fought hard, and ended up building a seven-point lead in the second half. Previous BYU teams may have never made it back within 10 but this is a resilient group and will continue to improve throughout the season.

Kyle Collinsworth once again provided Cougar fans a bright spot as he came out with his second triple double of the season. Finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists isn't an easy task, but Collinsworth seemed to do it quietly and with ease.

The Negatives

A loss is a loss, regardless of what kind of comeback was displayed. Turnovers once again caused problems in key moments. The total number of turnovers only totaled 12, but it was when they happened that was problematic. Late in the second half the Cougars had pulled within three points and gave the ball away on two consecutive trips down the floor, essentially handing the game to the Bulldogs. There were a couple of times that this happened in key moments and it is cause for concern, regardless of the opponent.

The Keys to Watch

When the Pilots have the ball:

Watch for the Pilots to share the ball as they have four players that average double digit scoring, but watch for the offense to run through sophomore guard Alec Wintering. Wintering is the leading scorer for the Pilots at 11.7 points per game, but also dishes out 5.7 assists per game and averages almost 85 percent from the free throw line. Watch for senior center Thomas van der Mars to control the paint as he averages almost eight rebounds per game to go along with his 11.3 points per game.

Watch for the Cougars to force the longer shot as the Pilots only hit on about 37 percent of their three point shots. Watch for the Cougars to continue to win the rebounding battle, BYU averages almost two rebounds more per game than the Pilots. Corbin Kaufusi has been a particularlly bright spot in the rebounding game as he continues to learn and embrace the Cougars system and earns more playing time.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to force the tempo and score more than the 63 points that the Pilots allow per game. Even with some poor shooting performances the Cougars are putting up better numbers than that and you can bet they will be working on ending the shooting slump. Watch for the Cougars to continue to shoot the three-point shot, regardless if it is falling. Watch for Kaufusi to continue to improve in the offense as he earns playing time and makes offensive as well as defensive plays.

Watch for the Pilots to protect the paint and force the longer shots. With the three-point struggles the Cougars have faced, the Pilots will be happy to let them keep shooting it. Watch for the Pilots big guys to protect the paint and limit the drives they give up to the Cougars. Portland won't be afraid to play physical, so watch for the Cougars to be rewarded with free throws for much of the game.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 7 pm 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