WCC Power Rankings, March 3rd

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Feb 20, 2014; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars forward Eric Mika (00) grabs a rebound stares down a Gonzaga Bulldogs fan on the front row during the first half at Marriott Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

1.    BYU

Last week: 1 (Idle)

Record: 13-5 (21-10)

RPI: 34

KenPom: 45

Place in Conf. Standings: 2

This past week: W @ San Diego 78-70.

By Andrew Perkins

BYU took care of business this week by registering a hard fought win at San Diego.  Again, the Cougars allowed an opponent to register a career game, as Christopher Anderson nearly willed the Toreros to a win with 22 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals.  This time, however, the Cougars would galvanize and slam the door on their feisty opponents.  After a 3-pointer by Anderson with two minutes to go, USD trailed 67-65.  On the next possession, BYU answered through an unlikely source, as Kyle Collinsworth hit a desperation 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer.  That sparked a 9-0 run to essentially end the game in favor of the Cougars.

BYU should be an interesting team to watch during the WCC tournament.  As Coach Rose has maneuvered the rotation late in the year, the Cougars have won games in multiple ways.  They grinded out a low scoring affair at Saint Mary’s.  They ran Portland out of the gym.  They got after it defensively against Gonzaga.  Also, in those wins, the supporting cast shifted.  Anson Winder has stepped in where Skyler Halford started to falter.  Luke Worthington has provided very effective minutes to take a load off Eric Mika.  Matt Carlino is earning big minutes off the bench with his scoring and playmaking abilities.

Overall, it’s hard to predict how the Cougars will pan out because the season has been consistently inconsistent.  It’s possible they have turned the corner after the loss at Pacific, with a renewed focus on team offense and perimeter defense.  It’s also possible that recurring issues such as poor free throw shooting and porous defense could rear their ugly heads once again.

For now, however, Cougar fans have the right to be optimistic.  BYU recently beat SMC and Gonzaga over the course of a week.  They’ve won 8 of their last 9 games overall.  Tyler Haws is Tyler Haws.  Nate Austin brings his lunch pail every time out.  Matt Carlino is a 20+ point game waiting to happen.  And Anson Winder is getting his minutes and squeezing the life out of them.  Maybe, just maybe, things are starting to click at the perfect time.Check out and see how we rank all the teams going into the conference tournament.