The BYU Cougars and Pacific Tigers played against each other for the first time in 1961 with BYU winning 69-70 in Provo. Since then they have played seven more times and have split the series four games each. Last year was the first year that Pacific was in the West Coast Conference, so if history is any indication, the teams will have many good battles to come. The two games played last year went as the winning percentage suggested, with each team winning at home and by a similar score.
Provo, UT 2014 (88-78)
Tyler Haws and Eric Mika led the Cougars as they scored 58 of the Cougars 88 points in the 10-point win. Haws scored 21 of the Cougars first 25 points as BYU took a nine-point lead 10 minutes into the half. Pacific made a run to pull within two, but BYU jumped ahead again. A Haws three gave the Cougars a 45-34 lead at the half. BYU quickly built up its lead to 13 before a 9-0 Tigers run put the game back within reach. Haws responded with seven straight points, taking control of the games once again. With a three from Matt Carlino and a bucket by Mika, the Cougars extended their lead to a game high 16. The Tigers couldn't make a comeback as they only pull within eight before falling 88-78.
Stockton, CA 2014 (89-82 loss)
Matt Carlino did everything he could to give the Cougars a road win over Pacific, but his 28 points were not enough as BYU fell 89-82. BYU started hot, building a 9-0 lead, but the Tigers responded with a 12-0 run, taking their first lead at 14-11. The game of streaks continued as BYU found itself part of a 12-2 run as they took the lead at 20-17 and led by three, 38-35, at the half. Both teams went on small runs in the second half, but Pacific extended its lead, hitting nine before a Haws three cut the deficit to four with under 10 to play. BYU once again allowed the game to get away as Pacific built its lead to 15 at 78-63. BYU found itself within two possessions with under two minutes left, but couldn't make the shots and fell on the road.
The Cougars rebounded after a loss to Pepperdine by beating up on Loyola Marymount. The game had its high points, but a number of low ones as well. The win is nice to get, but there is plenty to correct as the Cougars head to Pacific, where they lost last year. Once again, BYU is in a position where it can't afford an off night as it pursues its goals, or it may find itself on the outside looking in.
The Cougars once again found their shot from behind the arc, shooting 45 percent as a team. At times it seemed like it would never go in, but it evened out over time. Even more importantly for the Cougars was the assist total. Of the 28 field goals made by the Cougars, 25 of them were assisted, proving once again how the extra pass can benefit a team as it moves the ball around.
Once again the Cougars defense proved to be pores and underwhelming. The Cougars allowed LMU 72 points on a night when the Lions were without their best scorer on the floor, Evan Payne who is averaging 20 points a game this season. You wouldn't know Payne was out by looking at the stats. The Cougars allowed five Lions role players to score in double digits. None of these players were averaging double digits coming into the game. In fact, Payne was the only LMU player averaging double digits coming into the game. Second chance points continue to be one of BYU's biggest struggles as the Cougars gave up 19 second chance points to the Lions. This must be addressed or teams will continue to exploit this weakness.
The Keys to Watch
When the Tigers have the ball:
Watch for the Tigers to slow the tempo of the game as they play a half-court offense and try to run the clock down. The Tigers average almost 66 points per game and will try to grind it out with the Cougars. Generally the ball will be in the hands of either sophomore guard T.J Wallace or junior guard Dulani Robinson. Wallace is the team's leading scorer and rebounder at 12.5 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game. Robinson is second in scoring with 10.1 points per game and leads in assists with 2.9 per game. Watch for these two to be the impact players for the Tigers.
Watch for the Cougars to rattle Wallace and force him to make bad passesin hopes of increasing his 2.6 turnovers per game. Watch for the Cougars to play physical inside, looking to force the post men into difficult shots and put them on the free throw line, where they shoot a low percentage. Watch for the Cougars to work on the second chance points and limit the number of offensive rebounds the Tigers will pick up.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the four guard lineup to continue to give teams problems. BYU continues to lead the nation in points per game at 86.7 and will continue to run the floor. With four guards on the floor, BYU's chances of scoring increases and the assists will continue to pile up. The Cougars lead the nation in assists per game at 18.4, so watch for the extra pass as the Cougars continue to spread the floor and put their shooters in positions to find success.
Watch for the Tigers to get their hands in the lanes in an attempt to slow down the Cougars passing. Watch for them to push out to guard the Cougars on the perimeter, but struggle with the Cougars as they drive past. Watch for the Cougars to look to involve Corbin Kaufusi in the game plan to open up the outside shot for Haws, Chase Fischer, and Anson Winder.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 9 pm MST
Where: Alex G. Spanos Center-Stockton, CA
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here