Editor’s Note: I wrote this week’s preview last Friday and didn’t get a chance to post it. Here’s what I wrote about San Diego (played last night) as well as BYU’s other two opponents this week.
Location: Jenny Craig Pavilion – San Diego, CA
Date: Monday, January 16
Time: 8:00 PM TV: BYUtv
San Diego is 6-10 (1-3 WCC) and already lost once to the Cougars in Provo on December 31 by 36. They played St. Mary’s close a few days later at home but lost. Their previous game will have been 4 days previous so they’ll be well-rested for this game. In that game, Brandon Davies scored 21 points and grabbed a career high 22 rebounds. The Toreros shot an abysmal 23% and 5/27 from three.
What to watch for:
Johnny Dee, a freshman guard, is the center of focus for this team as he leads the team in scoring field goals made and attempted as well as 3 PT made and attempted. This team will be looking to keep it close and give themselves a chance at the end of the game. They won’t shoot near as poor at home as they did in Provo, but their underwhelming lack of size will be overmatched by the size and depth of BYU.
BYU won’t win by 36 but will win going away by more than 15.
Location: Marriott Center – Provo, Utah
Date: Thursday, January 19
Time: 6:30 PM TV: BYUtv
The WCC clearly has three levels of teams this year, a top-, middle-, and bottom tier. At the top you have St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, and BYU. In the bottom, you have Santa Clara, Pepperdine, and San Francisco with San Diego easily interchangeable. Of the remaining two teams, Loyola Marymount is easily the “best of the rest.” Currently sitting at 10-7 (3-1 WCC) the Lions played BYU tough at home before finally conceding an 8 point loss to the Cougars. By the time this game is played, they will have had their second tough conference matchup, a game at home against Gonzaga. With two wins over ranked teams this season, the Lions are no slouch.
What to watch for:
In the previous matchup, the Cougars went away from their most consistent player this season in Noah Hartsock. He only attempted three shots in the first half as the guards; particularly Matt Carlino dominated the ball, ending the half tied at 34. In the second half, the Cougars righted the ship, Hartsock scored 17 of his 21points, and though the Lions pulled within 2 in the closing minutes, the Cougars made six free throws to end the game. This game will be different. The Cougars know that Hartsock and Davies need to have the ball in their hands. The combination of inside/outside strengths, combined with their size advantage over the smaller WCC teams is becoming more apparent and the Cougars play best when those two get going early, freeing up the spot up shooters in Carlino, Brock Zylstra, and Anson Winder.
BYU will dominate in all aspects of this game this time around and win for the fourth straight game by more than 15 points.
Location: Firestone Fieldhouse – Malibu, CA
Date: Saturday, January 21
Time: 6:00 PM TV: BYUtv
Pepperdine won at Arizona State at the beginning of the season then lost Cal State Bakersfield and Central Michigan, both close to, or at home. The Waves are 7-9 (1-4 WCC) with that lone win at home against San Francisco. They lost by nearly identical scores back-to-back against St. Mary’s and Gonzaga.
What to watch for:
Senior forward Tyler Darby is the scoring focus of this team but that doesn’t mean a lot. The Waves do not shoot the ball well from anywhere on the floor (38% FG, 33% 3, and 69.9% FT.) Where the Waves can be sneaky is on the offensive glass where they grab nearly 12 per game which often turns into easy second chance points. The BYU bigs should dominate the interior again and each scores a double-double for the Cougars.
BYU shouldn’t have too much issue, but their inconsistent play might catch them looking ahead to a rough next couple of games at Virginia Tech and at home to St. Mary’s and Gonzaga and the Waves could keep this close. Don’t be surprised if your Cougars only win by single digits.