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What you need to know: BYU vs. Saint Mary's, round 2

A game against the 2nd place Gaels looms large for the Cougars as their postseason hopes hang in the balance.

Garrett Jackson scored 20 points last time the two teams met.
Garrett Jackson scored 20 points last time the two teams met.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The BYU Cougars and the Saint Mary's Gaels have faced off 17 times since 1956 and the Cougars have won 10 of them. The Gaels have won five of the last seven since the Cougars joined the West Coast Conference. BYU swept Saint Mary's last year, but is looking for its first win over the Gaels this year.

Moraga, CA 2015 (82-77 Loss)

Even with 28 points from Tyler Haws, the Cougars couldn't pull out a road win against the 2nd place team in the conference. BYU went on an 11-0 run to take a six-point lead with just over five minutes left in the half, but a 10-0 run to end the half gave the Gaels a 45-37 lead. BYU played uphill for the rest of the game, pulling within five a number of times, but couldn't pull any closer than three before falling 82-77. In addition to the 28 points, Haws added six rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Chase Fischer finished the night with 19 points and five rebounds.

Moraga, CA 2014 (60-57)

Facing a Gaels team that was out for revenge for their previous loss, the Cougars were able to overcome shooting struggles and a double digit deficit to win 60-57 on the road. Once again, Haws led all scorers with 18 points and Kyle Collinsworth added 14. After BYU scored first, the Gaels went on an 18-7 run in order to take a 25-11 lead. The Cougars were able to cut it to six before Saint Mary's extended it to 12.  A Collinsworth tip-in would send the teams to the locker room with a 35-25 game.

The second half went much the same as the first until a block by Eric Mika turned into a Nate Austin layup and the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to pull the game within three at 44-41. With just under four minutes to go, the Cougars tied the game at 53. After a Gaels miss, the Cougars had a chance for their first lead since the opening basket of the game, but a Matt Carlino three-pointer was off the mark. Austin was once again the beneficiary as he was in the area for the tip-in and the lead. Free throws ended up deciding the game as Carlino and Skyler Halford each hit two free throws with under 10 seconds to seal the win.

The Outlook

After a fairly easy win against Loyola Marymount, the Cougars will face a battle against Saint Mary's. The Cougars couldn't pull off the win on the road, but they must win at home in order to keep their long-shot postseason hopes alive for the NCAA Tournament, but more importantly helps BYU toward staying above the four-seed for the WCC tournament and, at very least, to solidify an NIT outlook.

The Positives

The Cougars found a way to rebound the ball against the Lions, finishing with 17 more than the Lions by the end of the game. In fact, the Cougars had as many offensive rebounds as the Lions had on the defensive side, both totaling 17. Winning the rebounding battle 42-25 was huge and this showed in the second chance points with BYU outscoring the Lions 19-8 in that category. This type of rebounding performance is what the Cougars have been hoping for all season, now they just have to work on duplicating it.

The Negatives

With the game in hand, the Cougars may not have worked as hard in the second half, unfortunately this is becoming a pattern in the second half. It may be the adjustments that are being made by the opponent in the locker room, or it may be the Cougars are less intense on defense. Either way the Cougars need to find a way to fix the problem. The Cougars can't allow teams to make second half surges or comebacks and still win games.

The Keys to Watch

When the Gaels have the ball:

Watch for the Gaels to be physical as they force the ball inside to their senior forward, Brad Waldow. Waldow leads the team in points per game (20) and rebounds (9.4). Waldow didn't score much over his average in the first meeting (24), but he took over the game when needed. His 14 rebounds, seven of which were on the offensive glass, were more than twice the amount of the Cougars big men and led to 12 second chance points. Although Waldow is the most demanding challenge, the Gaels have a pair of good guards in Kerry Carter and Aaron Bright. Carter averages 12 points a game while Bright averages almost 11 and provides almost four assists per game. The Gaels are averaging just a tiny bit less than when the teams met last time and are now averaging 70 points per game, but continue to assist on over 16 shots per game. Garrett Jackson stepped up in the first game and scored 20 and pulled down nine rebounds as the Gaels post players manhandled the Cougars.

Watch for the Cougars to focus their attention on the post as this was their downfall in the first meeting. Watch for the Cougars to force turnovers as they attempt to keep the ball away from Waldow. Don't be surprised if the Cougars use all their fouls from Corbin Kaufusi, Luke Worthington, and Isaac Neilson as they put Waldow to the line where he is a 67 percent free throw shooter. Watch for the Cougars to get their hands on the ball once Waldow receives the pass as the work on his two turnovers per game.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to involve the post players in the game-plan. The Cougars will need to force their tempo onto the Gaels and will need to find ways to score in the post. Ryan Andrus has begun to play a larger part and if he can continue to improve, the inside presence will allow for better shots on the perimeter.

Watch for the Gaels to force the Cougars to shoot from a less than desirable distance on the court. Waldow will use his size to intimidate the Cougars as they drive to the hoop, forcing the Cougars into difficult shots and errant passes. Watch for the Gaels to once again get their hands in the lanes and cause turnovers. The Gaels forced 12 turnovers in the last game, with seven being steals. Although they will not stop Haws, watch for them to make him work for every point he gets.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 7 pm MST

Where: Marriott Center- Provo, UT


Internet: WatchESPN

Radio (BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here