Utah State Aggies (5-0) vs. Brigham Young Cougars (5-2)
LOCATION Energy Solutions Arena
TIME 7:00 PM MST
TV BYUtv, with a live video stream at byutvsports.com.
RADIO BYU – KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM or BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143
HEAD-TO-HEAD BYU leads 137-92
LAST MEETING BYU won 70-68 on 2/19/13
Preston Medlin 15.0 ppg 4.0 apg 48.1% 3FG
TeNale Roland 6.6 ppg 2.8 apg
Spencer Butterfield 14.2 ppg 5.6 rpg 52.6% 3FG
Kyle Davis 7.8 ppg 6.6 rpg
Jarred Shaw 16.4 ppg 7.0 rpg
Matt Carlino 19.1 ppg 5.4 rpg 5.0 apg
Tyler Haws 24.2 ppg 6.4 rpg
Kyle Collinsworth 11.9 ppg 8.4 rpg 5.3 apg
Nate Austin 4.4 ppg 9.4 rpg
Eric Mika 13.1 ppg 4.7 rpg
This will be the toughest test yet for the Aggies, who have already notched notable wins over re-building power conference teams Mississippi State and USC. After a perusal of USU’s schedule, I can declare that this game will be the most significant non-conference tilt they’ll have. A win here would surely help out the Aggies when March rolls around.
Simply put, the Cougars just need W’s. Their non-conference slate is legit – they just ran the gauntlet against Iowa State, Texas, and Wichita State. They’ve still got UMass and Oregon ahead. They went to Stanford. There’s no question that schedule is solid. With tough contests looming, it’s imperative for BYU to take care of business against all teams not named UMass and Oregon. Also, the Cougars could use a shot of confidence after a rough week of play. Three hard-fought games led to a 1-2 record. A win here would be extremely gratifying.
A LOOK BACK TO LAST SEASON
BYU’s 70-68 victory at the Marriott Center got capped off by a buzzer beater by senior Craig Cusick. While Cusick has since graduated, many familiar faces from last year’s contest are ready to go at it again. BYU’s Tyler Haws scored 27 points to lead the Cougars that day. Utah State’s Spencer Butterfield stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists. Jarred Shaw also put up 13 points and 8 rebounds himself. In all, six of the eight USU players that saw the floor last season will be back on the floor on Saturday night.
Also, last season’s contest was postponed after Utah State’s Danny Berger suffered a heart attack during practice the day before. He has since recovered, and will be on the floor against the Cougars this season. Berger is a phenomenal guy, an all around good person, and it’s great to see him able to get back on the court. He’s averaged 2.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 13.2 minutes this season.
WILL BYU CURE THEIR ILLS?
The Cougars have shown two great weaknesses. They have a hard time keeping opponents off the offensive glass, and they go through stretches of defensive futility. Texas used size and strength to exploit those weaknesses. Wichita State and Iowa State used quickness and athleticism to exploit those weaknesses. Utah State roughed up BYU a little bit in last year’s contest, and they’ll look to do the same on Saturday night.
BYU needs Eric Mika, Kyle Collinsworth, and Nate Austin to lay off the foul trouble. As evidenced by the late-game scoring of Iowa State, Mika is the only legitimate defender in the low post. Austin and Collinsworth are the only two that can consistently go and pull down rebounds. Tyler Haws looked like a boy among men trying to rebound on the back line of the zone against Wichita State.
It’s hard to say. Utah State has always given BYU problems. Then again, BYU has won seven straight games at Energy Solutions Arena, including last year’s trouncing of Virginia Tech. Lest we forget, that was Tyler Haws’ 42-point extravaganza.
In all, ESA is the ultimate equalizer. Any substantial noise from rowdy and raucous fans gets swallowed up in the wide expanse of the arena. Unless Wild Bill can pack the place, Utah State may not have much to feed off of. With an even playing field, the edge swings to BYU’s favor in a tough rivalry game.
BYU 75 Utah State 68