In the 17th meeting between the Cougars and the Dons, a chance at the WCC Championship will be on the line. The Cougars hold a 10-6 advantage after winning three of the last four, and both of the regular season games this year. In a series that started in 1946, the Cougars are looking to make it to the championship game on Tuesday but it will take beating the Dons for a third time this year.
San Francisco, CA 2014 (9-6)
In a game that many expected to be close, the teams didn't disappoint when the Cougars walked away with an 83-76 victory. The Cougars had five players score in double digits, led by Kyle Collinsworth who had 19. Skyler Halford added 18, Matt Carlino added 17, Tyler Haws had 15 and Eric Mika ended with 11. The first half started close and ended close, as the Cougars and Dons traded baskets early and even had multiple lead changes in the final two minutes of the half. With a 37-34 lead going into the locker room, the Dons were in a good position to win. BYU used a strong second half on offense and defense in order to earn their first conference road win of the year. While shooting 55 percent for the second half, the defense kept the Dons to just under 43 percent in the same time frame. Halford was a key in the game as he not only had key buckets but he was 11 of 12 from the free throw line.
Provo, UT 2014 (10-6)
In a low scoring defensive game, the Cougars held on to take control of second place in the WCC with a 68-63 victory. Kyle Collinsworth and Tyler Haws ended with 19 while Eric Mika had another double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Matt Carlino was a key player in the victory as he scored all 11 of his points in the second half while racking up nine assists for the game. The game was close throughout but the cougars managed to extend the lead to seven on a number of occasions. San Francisco managed to take a five point lead with ten minutes left in the game but BYU managed to steal back the lead for good. Nate Austin had a career high 16 rebounds to go with four points and a block.
A win against LMU in the quarterfinals have given BYU some momentum going into the big semi-final game on Monday. In an attempt to win their first conference tournament since 2001, the Cougars will need to play a full 40 minutes against the Dons in order to pull off the victory and make it to the finals. The Cougars have won nine of their last ten and five in a row. There are aspects that need to be improved in order to win the game, but the opportunity is in front of an improved Cougars team.
The Cougars defense was smothering for most of the game and as a result kept the Lions shooting percentage well below their average. The Lions only managed to shoot 37 percent from the field and only hit four three pointers for low percentage of 22 percent. While forcing rushed and bad shots, the Cougars defense also managed to force 16 turnovers, 12 of them being steals. Anson Winder led the team with six steals while adding 16 points. Winder has taken advantage of his new role in the starting lineup and has provided significant contributions in each game.
The glaring negative is the 0-12 from behind the arc. For the first time since 1996 the Cougars were unable to convert on a three point shot. The Cougars will need to even out the three point shooting percentage if they are going to have a chance against San Francisco. Again the Cougars had a double digit lead that got away from them for a bit. The lead was not relinquished this game but it was cut down significantly after building it up to 18. It seems like the Cougars struggle putting a team away, but they will need to adjust in order to feel confident in Vegas.
The Keys to Watch
When San Francisco has the ball: Watch for the Dons to continue to share the ball and make teams cover everyone. San Francisco has four players that average double-digit points. Cole Dickerson leads the team with at almost 15 points per game and almost eight rebounds per game. Avry Holmes adds almost 13 points per game and almost 3 assists. Matt Glover leads the team in assists at over 3 per game and will look to get the other players involved. Watch for the Cougars to force the bench into playing time with a physical defense. The Cougars were able to create 13 turnovers the last time the teams met, so look for hands to be in the lanes and pressure to be put on the ball handler.
When BYU has the ball: Watch for the Cougars to continue to get everyone involved. Watch for the Cougars to not miss as many open shots as they did on Saturday. Carlino and Mika will continue to shoot the ball and watch for their shooting percentage to go up in this game. Watch for the Dons to pressure the Cougars in the paint and force longer shots. They will give the Cougars the three point shot until BYU proves that they will hit it. They know that they can't stop Haws, Carlino, and Collinsowrth but they will make them take tough shots in order to minizime the damage.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 9:30 pm MST
Where: Orleans Arena- Las Vegas, NV
TV: ESPN 2
Radio (BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here