BYU will once again be challenged in the non-conference slate, as the Cougars play a host of solid teams from coast-to-coast. It might not be as daunting as last season, but it will give the Cougars a serious test nonetheless.
Last season, the Cougars rigorous non-conference slate was one of the main reasons the Cougars were able to nab a ten-seed in the NCAA tournament. BYU was rumored to be on the bubble, more specifically as one of the last four teams in. Instead of playing a play-in game in Dayton, the selection committee was impressed and sent the Cougars as a ten-seed to Milwaukee, despite Kyle Collingsworth’s injury.
With another tough non-conference schedule, is BYU setting themselves up to make back-to-back NCAA tournaments? Possibly.
Here is a breakdown of BYU’s non-conference schedule for 2014-2015. Enjoy!
Oct. 29 – Cougar Tipoff
Last Season: N/A
This is BYU’s version of “midnight madness.” With a new look roster, it will be exciting to see some of the newcomers in action, particularly Dalton Nixon, Jamal Aytes and Jordan Chatman.
Nov. 1 – Exhibition Game No. 1
Last Season: N/A
The Cougars typically play two non-division-I opponents to kick-off the season. Last year the Cougars took on Colorado College and Alaska-Anchorage. This year’s matchups have not been announced.
Nov. 8 – Exhibition Game No. 2
Last Season: N/A
Nov. 14 – Long Beach State
Last Season: 15-17 (11-7 Big West).
The 49ers are an interesting team for the Cougars early in the season.
Long Beach State possesses a potent backcourt with former UCLA Bruin Tyler Lamb and Mike Caffey. Caffey led the team in scoring last season with 16.2 points per game, while Lamb was second with 15.4 points per game.
Overall, this is a solid game that will give the Cougars a considerable test, especially their backcourt.
Nov. 18 – Arkansas-Little Rock
Last Season: 15-17 (9-8 Sun Belt).
BYU will host the Trojans in mid-November in what would their fourth straight home game to start the season.
For Arkansas-Little Rock, the player to watch will be junior guard Josh Hagins. As a sophomore, Hagins averaged 12.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists – which was first on the squad in assists, second on the team in points and third on the stat sheet in rebounds. The Trojans also return 6-foot-8 junior forward James White, who was second on the team in rebounding his sophomore season.
The Trojans lost their best player from last season, however. Will Neighbour led the team in both scoring and rebounding with 16.3 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game.
This team could give BYU a bit of a surprise early on, but expect the Cougars to take care of business at home.
Nov. 19 – Southern Virginia
Last Season: 6-16 (Division III)
The Knights, another LDS school, will travel to Provo to take on the Cougars just a day after BYU plays Arkansas-Little Rock.
The Cougars scheduled something similar to this last year, when the Cougars took on Colarado Mesa – a division II school – a night after BYU played Mount Saint Mary’s.
Nov. 24-26 – Maui Invitational
Arizona – Last Season: 33-5 (15-3 Pac-12). NCAA Tournament Elite 8.
Chaminade – Last Season: 19-13 (Division II)
Kansas State – Last Season: 20-13 (8-8 Big 12). NCAA Tournament First Round.
Missouri – Last Season: 23-12 (9-9 SEC). Second Round of the NIT.
Pitt – Last Season: 26-10 (11-7 ACC). NCAA Tournament Second Round.
Purdue – Last Season: 15-17 (5-12 Big-10).
San Diego State – Last Season: 31-5 (16-2 Mountain West). NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.
The Cougars are fortunate enough to play in the highly acclaimed Maui Invitation at the small, but homey Lahaina Civic Center.
The premier team in a loaded field of schools is Arizona, last season’s Pac-12 regular season champions. The Wildcats lose Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson, but bring back Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell and Gabe York. Along with a host of returners, Arizona will welcome one of the top recruits in the nation, Stanley Johnson, into the fold.
Pitt, San Diego State and Kansas State are all fresh off of NCAA tournament appearances – along with BYU and Arizona – and are featured in the field as well. The Panthers of Pitt lost Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson to graduation – Pitt’s leading scorers last season – but retain Cameron Wright (10.6 PPG), Durand Johnson (8.8 PPG) and James Robinson (7.6 PPG). Kansas State will be a tough out with its leading scorer – Marcus Foster (15.5 PPG as a freshman) – and leading rebounder – Thomas Gipson (6.5 RPG) – returning. The Aztecs of San Diego State lost their dynamic scorer in Xavier Thames and leading rebounder in Josh Davis, but return a ton of athleticism, specifically Winston Shepard, Dwayne Polee II and JJ O’ Brien. SDSU also brings in a loaded recruiting class, featuring Trey Kell, Malik Pope, Kevin Zabo and Zylan Cheatham.
Missouri and Purdue are also high-major schools in the field of eight. The Tigers of Missouri will be in a bit of transition year with their head coach Frank Haith bolting to Tulsa and their top three scorers (Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross) gone, but will be a tough foe like always with the additions of Keith Shamburger (Hawaii) and Deuce Bello (Baylor). Purdue lost leading scorers Ronnie Johnson and Terone Johnson to transfer and graduation respectively. Despite that, promising junior A.J. Hammons (10.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG) will lead the Boilermakers in 2014-2015.
Finally, the host school, Chaminade is a potential opponent for the Cougars in the Maui Invitational. Chaminade, a division-II school, will be much less volitle without the infamous sharpshooter Christophe Varidel, who played with Florida Gulf Coast in its NCAA tournament run in 2013.
Nov. 29 Eastern Kentucky
Last Season: 24-10 (11-5 OVC). NCAA Tournament First Round.
Fresh off an NCAA tournament appearance, the Colonels will make a trip out to Provo, Utah to take on the Cougars.
The main guy for Eastern Kentucky will be Corey Walden, an incoming senior who averaged 13.2 points last season. The Colonels also return incoming senior forward Eric Stutz, who led the team in rebounding with 4.6 per game.
Much like what I said about Arkansas-Little Rock, the Colonels will possibly give BYU a bit of a surprise early on, but ultimately the Cougars should take care of business against Eastern Kentucky.
Dec 2 – Utah State
Last Season: 18-14 (7-11 Mountain West).
The Aggies and the Cougars are well known for battling out it out in good, old fashioned hate fests.
BYU and Utah State squared off last season in EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, the home court of the Utah Jazz. The Cougars won by a score of 85-74, partly due to a 21 point performance from Tyler Haws. Matt Carlino also had 18 and Eric Mika had 15, two players that will not by on the Cougars 2014-2015 roster.
In that matchup, the Aggies were led by Spencer Butterfield, who scored 20 points in the loss. Kyle Davis, who has transferred to BYU since this game, had 16 points and 9 rebounds in the contest, while Jarred Shaw recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
All of the player mentioned above for Utah State have moved on, while BYU returns Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth, Anson Winder, Nate Austin etc. There is a solid chance that BYU could run the rebuilding Utah State Aggies out of the building on the road.
Dec 6 – Hawaii (EnergySolutions Arena)
Last Season: 20-11 (9-7 Big West).
The Warriors were a solid team last season that will give the Cougars a decent test.
Hawaii returns an explosive big man, Isaac Fotu, an incoming junior who averaged 14.1 points and 6.1 rebounds last season. On the negative side, the Warriors lost their leading scorer and rebounder, Christian Stanhardinger (18.1 PPG, 8.4 RPG), to graduation and their leading distributor, Keith Shamburger (5.4 APG) to transfer.
Since Hawaii is not a very good team on the road (5-5 away from home last season opposed to 15-6 at home), BYU should handle the former WAC member handily.
Dec 10 – Utah
Last Season: 21-12 (9-9 Pac-12). NIT First Round.
After the whopping the Utes gave BYU last season at the Huntsman Center, the Cougars will seek revenge on familiar grounds.
That task is either said than done, however, with the Utes returning a talented roster. Delon Wright, who averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebound and 5.5 assists last season, is the centerpiece of the returning players; giving the Utes a solid all-around athlete to build its team around. The Utes also return leading rebounder Jordan Loveridge and seven-footer Dallin Bachynski.
Outside of the Maui Invitational, Utah will be BYU’s hardest test so far in its schedule.
Dec 13 – Weber State
Last Season: 19-12 (14-6 Big Sky). NCAA Tournament First Round.
BYU will travel to Ogden, Utah to battle it out with the fighting Damien Lillards, otherwise known as the Weber State Wildcats.
Weber State and BYU met last season, where the Cougars beat the Wildcats by a score of 82-71. In that game, Haws torched Weber State for 28 points, while the departed Matt Carlino chipped in 21. On the Weber State side of things, Kyle Tresnak led the Wildcats with 24 points while Davion Berry dropped 23. Both players have since graduated.
However, the Wildcats do return Joel Bolomboy and Jeremy Senglin. Bolomboy, who is an incoming junior, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Senglin contributed 14 points in the loss.
As an in-state opponent, the Wildcats will give BYU a run for their money. However, the talent BYU possesses will be enough for the Cougars to prevail over Weber State.
Dec 20 – Stanford
Last Season: 23-13 (10-8 Pac-12). NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen
After Stanford hosted BYU last season in the ESPN tip-off marathon, the Cougars are returning the favor and welcoming the Cardinal to the Marriott Center.
Stanford returns of quality talent next season. Chasson Randle, who dropped 33 points against the Cougars in last season’s contest, will return for his senior season and run the point for Stanford. Anthony Brown, another incoming senior guard, scored 16 points in the 112-103 loss to BYU. Stefan Nastic, a 6-foot-11 center, will also return.
Departing from Stanford is Dwight Powell, a do-it-all forward, will depart from the roster, as will glue-guy forward Josh Huestis. Aaron Bright, who experienced an injury riddled season, will also leave the team, but BYU will have to deal with him later in the season when he plays with Saint Mary’s.
The Cardinal also bring in a stellar recruiting class, including McDonald’s All-American forward Reid Travis, point guard Robert Cartwright and long range shooter Dorian Pickens.
Dec 23 – Umass
Last Season: 24-9 (10-6 Atlantic-10). NCAA Tournament First Round.
Like Stanford, Umass will travel out to Provo for a return game of a home-and-home series.
In the two teams first ever matchup, the Minutemen defeated the Cougars 105 to 96 at home. Chaz Williams, a senior, gut-punched the Cougars with 32 points and 15 assists. Williams, who was Umass’ leading scorer and distributor last season, will not be a problem for BYU this time around, as he has graduated.
The Minutemen also lose Sampson Carter, a double-digit scorer. Carter dropped 20 points against the Cougars. However, Umass does return incoming senior and leading rebounder Cody Lalanne and Derrick Gordon, an incoming junior who averaged 9.4 points last season
This is a great cap to the Cougars non-conference season, with BYU facing a quality out-of-conference foe to wrap things up.