Saturday will mark the 46th battle between the BYU Cougars and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. BYU holds a dominating 32-13 edge in the win column with the last loss being in 1997. The two teams started the series in 1971 but played a large number of their games while both teams were in the Western Athletic Conference. The last two games have been played on a neutral court at EnergySolutions Arena. BYU is currently on a four game win streak against the Warriors.
Salt Lake City, UT 2010 (78-57)
Behind a pair of role players, the Cougars destroyed Hawaii 78-57. Because of foul trouble the BYU big men, Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies, found themselves on the bench and watching a good portion of the game. Hawaii kept the game close until Stephen Rogers and Logan Manusson propelled the Cougars on a 13-4 run late in the first half as the Cougars took a 16-point lead into the locker room. Rogers finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists while Magnusson added 11 points. Jimmer Fredette led all scorers with 16. After the big run by the Cougars, the team never looked back as they held at least a 12-point lead through the entire second half, leading to the 21 point win.
Things continue to look up for the Cougars as they travelled to an arena where they haven't won in 14 years and came out on top. It wasn't always pretty at times, but there were a number of positives to come out of the win over Utah State. For the eighth time in eight games the Cougars pushed past the 85-point mark, keeping their season average over 90 points.
For most of the last season the free throw shooting from the Cougars has been beyond atrocious. Game were lost at the line and blow outs became close affairs. This was not the case on Tuesday night in the Spectrum. Free throws kept the Cougars alive and ended up being a big difference in the win. Not only did the Cougars hit their final 24 free throws (yes, that number is correct), but a large number of the makes came from an unlikely source, Kyle Collinsworth. Collinsworth shot 58 percent from the free throw line last year, but managed a career high 10 of 10 from the stripe against the Aggies. With his performance against the Aggies, Collinsworth now is shooting almost 79 percent from the free throw line on the year. It is early, but the returns coming in are very positive. As a team the Cougars finished 34-39 from the line in the game, leading to the 10-point win.
Rebounding was another positive point for the Cougars as they managed 46 rebounds to 33 for the Aggies. The difference was even more apparent on the offensive side as the Cougars pulled down 17 offensive rebounds to seven for Utah State. In the end the rebound number doesn't mean much unless the team benefits, as the Cougars did. On 17 offensive rebounds the Cougars scored 18 second chance points. The Aggies could only muster up eight second chance points in the loss.
For the first time this season the Cougars had to overcome the three point shot ineptitude. Not one player shot even 50 percent from behind the arc and the team only shot 20 percent. Even the reliable players couldn't get the shot to fall as Tyler Haws was three of eight, Chase Fischer was one of five, and Anson Winder was one of four. The three-point shot is a staple of the Cougars offense and it runs much more efficiently when the shot is falling. Hopefully the Cougars don't have to worry about overcoming the problem again because they may not be so lucky.
The Scoring Defenses
The interesting match-up of the game will be how the defenses try to stop the scoring. Both offenses are in the top 3rd of the country while the two defenses have a lot of room to improve. In this match-up the Warriors will be getting the raw end of the deal as they will face off against the best scoring offense in the country in BYU. BYU is averaging 95.1 points per game and is coming off a game where they scored 91 points while shooting 20 percent from the three-point line. BYU on the other hand is allowing almost 78 points per game to their opponent, good enough for 335th in the country. Expect the Warriors to exceed their 66.8 points per game while giving up much more than their 73.2 points allowed.
The Keys to Watch
When the Warriors have the ball:
Watch for Roderick Bobbitt to lead the Warriors as they try to pull an upset over the Cougars. Bobbitt is first in minutes (32), fourth in scoring (9.1), first in assists (5.6) and first in steals (2.6). Bobbitt will do all he can to get the ball to his scorers, Aaron Valdes and Garrett Nevels, but watch for him to force it at times which could lead to turnovers. Along with his high number of assists, he also has a high number (2.3) of turnovers and this could be costly against a BYU team that thrives on getting their hands in the lanes. Watch for Valdes to be a vacuum on the boards. He averages over seven rebounds a game and will go after the ball as he tries to make plays.
Watch for the Cougars to make the game very physical and force the Warriors to hit from the outside. Sending players to the free throw line won't be a bad thing as Hawaii is only hitting on 68 percent of its free throws. Even worse is the Warriors outside shooting. As a team the Warriors are averaging less than 32 percent from the three-point line, so look for the Cougars to push the ball further and further out.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for Collinsworth to be even more aggressive. With his new found confidence from the free throw line, he will be even more of a threat as he drives. Watch him to take it to the Warriors as he can now count on driving to the hoop and getting the shot or driving to the hole for the points or a foul. As he makes the Warriors adjust to his aggressiveness, watch for the floor to open up for Haws and Fischer. The Cougars will not shoot 20 percent from behind the arc again, so watch for Fischer, Winder, and Haws to rack up some points from the outside.
Watch for the Warriors to pick their poison with the Cougars offense. They know that Haws can beat them, but statistically they will take their chances with Collinsworth at the line. Watch for the Warriors to game plan on staying with Haws, but realistically biting on the drives and leaving him open. Watch for the Warriors to use hustle to make up for their lack of size as they go after the ball on missed shots to prevent the Cougars from dominating the second chance points.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 4 pm MST
Where: EnergySolutions Arena-Salt Lake City, Utah
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here