Maui Invitational Preview: BYU vs. San Diego State


Mar 20, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brigham Young Cougars guard Frank Bartley IV (24) shoots a jump shot over Oregon Ducks forward Mike Moser (0) during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

BYU Cougars (3-0) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (3-0)

Date: Monday, November 24, 2014

Location: Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, HI

Time: 8:30 PM PT



Live Stats:

Series History: BYU leads the series 48-23 but San Diego won the most recent matchup in the 2011 MWC Championship game 72-54, behind 21 points from Billy White and 20 points from Kawhi Leonard.



Kyle Collinsworth, 5.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.5 APG

Tyler Haws, 17.3 PPG

Chase Fischer, 15.3 PPG, 3.0 APG

Nate Austin, 4.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG

Luke Worthington, 7.0 PPG

San Diego State

Trey Kell, 3.3 PPG

Winston Shepard 8.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG

Dwayne Polee II, 10.7 PPG

JJ O’Brien, 10.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG

Skylar Spencer, 3.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG

Meet the Opponent

When watching San Diego State play, it’s like you’re watching two different teams play: one on defense and another one on offense.  The Aztecs held a high powered Utah Utes offense to 28 points through the first 34 minutes of that game, and gave up only 27 points to CSU Bakersfield for the entire game.  They have four players in their starting lineup 6’7 or taller, and their length and athleticism gives other teams nightmares trying to figure out how to score.  Skylar Spencer is averaging 3.7 blocks per game in the early season, and JJ O’Brien (who has the distinction of playing for two of BYU’s former MWC rivals, Utah and San Diego State), has been admirable on the glass, trying to replace the Kawhi Leonard look-a-like from last season, Josh Davis.

Offensively, a team that was mediocre last season with Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Xavier Thames has only gotten more anemic without him.  They have no true distributor, and as a result their team shooting percentage is disastrous at under 36 percent.  In fact, Arizona transfer Angelo Chol, who is currently their backup center, is the only player on the entire roster shooting better than 42 percent from the field.  Dwayne Polee was expected to break out on offense this season after a stellar end to last season, but he is shooting just 29 percent from the field this season and is clearly suffering from the lack of a dominant point guard.  Winston Shepard, who was expected to assume more of the ball handling responsibilities with Thames gone, doesn’t have a single assist through three games.

What BYU Needs to do to Win

For BYU to win this game, a few things need to happen.  First, Nate Austin needs to stay out of foul trouble, as he is BYU’s best rebounder who has the ability to prevent SDSU from second shot opportunities.  The Aztecs are going to miss a lot of shots, so Austin and Kyle Collinsworth, BYU’s two best rebounders from last season, need to own the defensive boards.  Second, BYU needs to take care of the ball and take good shots in the offense.  Early against Southern Virginia, guys were trying to go one-on-one and that will not work against San Diego State’s on ball defenders.  Force the defense to move, scramble, get out of position, and hopefully Haws will able to find some open looks in the mid range.  If the game is played in the 70s, BYU should have a good shot to win, a game in the 50s will most certainly benefit the defensive oriented Aztecs.  I predict a 65-58 win for the Cougars, who will make just enough shots to get it done.

Previewing the rest of the teams in Maui

Pittsburgh: The Panthers are led in scoring by breakout sophomores Michael Young and Chris Jones and by the excellent point guard play of James Robinson and Josh Newkirk.  They’ll become much deeper in the backcourt when Cameron Wright comes back from injury.

Chaminade: They lost high scoring guard Christophe Varidel from last season, but return a very prolific three point shooter in Kiran Shastri.

Purdue: The Boilermakers rely on freshman big men Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards while AJ Hammons continues to fail to live up to his potential.  Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus was a nice late addition at point guard and Kendall Stephens can really shoot the long ball.

Arizona: Despite losing Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon to the NBA, the Wildcats return a talented core, led by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a healthy Brandon Ashley, center Kaleb Tarczewski, and highly touted freshman guard Stanley Johnson.

Missouri: The Tigers have struggled after losing their top three scorers last season and already have a bad loss to UMKC.  Guards Montaque Gill-Caesar and Wes Clark are doing most of the scoring.  Keith Shamburger is a transfer from Hawaii so he has prior experience playing in this kind of atmosphere.

Kansas State: Big man Thomas Gipson has improved in each of his four years, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds a game, while 2013-14 standout freshman Marcus Foster is trying to avoid a sophomore slump after some early season struggles.