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What you need to know: BYU vs. Portland, round 2

The Cougars are looking to finish the season strong and the Pilots are standing in their way.

Thomas van der Mars will help lead the Pilots in an upset bid.
Thomas van der Mars will help lead the Pilots in an upset bid.
Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The Thursday match-up between the BYU Cougars and the Portland Pilots will be the 13th 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 11-1 record over Portland. The Cougars took the first game at home this season and now look to finish the season strong with a win in Portland.

Provo, UT 2014 (97-88)

The Cougars had five players score in double digits, and three of them scored over 20 points, as BYU earned its first conference win of the year. Portland took an early five-point lead, but behind a 10-0 run the Cougars grabbed the lead and never gave it up. Portland would come within one point a number of times in the first half, but couldn't quite make a full comeback. The second half wasn't any better for the Pilots, falling behind by as many as 18 points. The Pilots were able to pull within seven, but didn't have enough to overcome the huge deficit and fell to the Cougars by the score of 97-88. Tyler Haws finished the game with 24, Anson Winder scored 22, and Kyle Collinsworth added 21.

Provo, UT 2014 (89-72)

The Cougars bounced back after a 3OT loss to the Pilots. 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 and 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

The Cougars are coming off their first four game winning streak of the season after knocking off the San Diego Toreros at home. BYU once again allowed a team to hang around, but this time were able to keep the lead and walk away with the win. All four wins in the current streak have been by double-digits, so the Cougars are confident in both their offense and defense going into the game against the Pilots.

The Positives

Rebounds were once again a key in the win as BYU grabbed 15 more rebounds than the Toreros. The Cougars grabbed 38 total rebounds with 13 coming on offense, which BYU converted into eight second chance points. The Cougars have won every game this season when taking the rebound battle, so expect them to continue to focus on this aspect of the game as the season winds down.

The Negatives

The Cougars once again started out slow, not scoring until five minutes into the game. The defense limited the damage by allowing San Diego only seven points in that stretch. The Cougars have two more games in the regular season and they are both on the road. If slow starts continue, it could mean the end of their bubble dreams. The Cougars will need to find a way to start fast and not fall behind early if they want to keep winning.

The Keys to Watch

When the Pilots have the ball:

Watch for the Pilots to try a different approach this time around. Last time, Portland tried to run with the Cougars and allowed 97 points. The Pilots have three players that score in double-digits as the team averages 71 points per game, but can't expect to keep pace with BYU. Kevin Bailey has taken over the team scoring lead as he averages almost 14 points per game, but the offense will still run through Alec Wintering. Wintering is still averaging over 12 points per game and dishes out almost six assists. Wintering scored 30 in the previous loss to BYU. Don't forget to watch for Thomas van der Mars as he averages over 10 points per game and eight rebounds.

Watch for the Cougars to focus on the defensive rebound as they look to limit Portland to one shot per possession. With the improved play from Corbin Kaufusi, Ryan Andrus and Josh Sharp, the Cougars could run away with the rebounding battle, which has been leading to wins.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Watch for BYU to share the wealth; the Cougars had five players in double figures in the first matchup with Portland. BYU expects to shoot the three-ball much better this time around and this will allow the inside game to flourish. Watch for the Cougars to set the pace of the game early.

Watch for the Pilots to force the Cougars big men to go after the rebound. Portland will play scrappy and physical as they try to prevent a repeat of game one. The Pilots out-rebounded the Cougars the first time around, so they are confident that they can win the battle and force a closer game.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 8 pm MST

Where: Chiles Center-Portland, OR

TV: Root Sports

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

Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here