Spokane, WA (Sports Network) - The top two teams in the West Coast Conference
mix it up at the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday night, as the BYU
Cougars come calling on the 10th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs.
BYU has won seven of its last eight games to improve to 15-5 overall and 5-1
in WCC action, just off the pace set by first-place Gonzaga, which comes in at
17-2 on the season and a perfect 4-0 in conference.
The Cougars took out visiting San Diego last Saturday, 74-57, which was a nice
bounce-back effort following their lone league loss at home to Saint Mary's-CA
three days prior. It was also important in that it was coach Dave Rose's 200th
career victory (200-59). BYU has been dominant at home this season (10-1), but
has been vulnerable outside of Provo (3-2 in true road games, 2-2 in neutral-
Gonzaga stepped out of conference last Saturday to tangle with No. 8 Butler in
Indianapolis, and it was the hometown Bulldogs who prevailed in what turned
out to be a 64-63 final. The loss snapped an eight-game win streak for the
Zags, who will be trying to secure their ninth win in 10 home games with a
victory this evening.
This bout marks only the sixth all-time meeting between BYU and Gonzaga on the
hardwood, with the Cougars owning a 3-2 series advantage.
BYU is fortunate to have one of the top players in all of college basketball
on its roster, as sophomore guard Tyler Haws is averaging 21.6 ppg (seventh-
best nationally) while also securing 5.1 rpg, handing out 44 assists and
logging 27 steals. He is a 48.6 percent shooter overall who drains his 3-
pointers 39.1 percent of the time. Haws is also among the national leaders in
free throw percentage (.919, sixth). Brandon Davies isn't about to let his
younger teammates grab all the headlines though, as the senior is netting 18.0
ppg while leading the Cougars' rebounding effort with 7.3 rpg. He is also the
team's top shot blocker with 26 and he is shooting 54.6 percent from the
field. As a team, BYU averages a robust 78.3 ppg in hitting 46.1 percent of
its total shots and 73.3 percent of its foul shots. The Cougars own favorable
margins in both rebounding (+5.6) and turnovers (+2.3). Haws scored 25 points
and Davies added 17 to lead the Cougars to their memorable win over San Diego
last Saturday. In addition to the milestone reached by coach Rose, BYU gained
some additional confidence as it peered ahead to this showdown with Gonzaga.
Elias Harris and Sam Dower each scored 20 points, and Kelly Olynyk tacked on
14 more, but those efforts went for naught as Gonzaga fell by a single point
at Butler last weekend. The Zags hit 47.1 percent of their field goal
attempts, but Butler was at 50 percent, nailing twice as many 3-pointers in
the game (8-4). Gonzaga outscored its host in the paint (28-18), off turnovers
(16-8) and in bench points (24-10). Olynyk continues to pace the team in
scoring with his 18.0 ppg, and he ranks second in rebounds with 6.8 rpg.
Harris heads that latter department with 6.9 rpg, and he produces 14.9 ppg for
good measure, while Kevin Pangos rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers
with 12.1 ppg. As a team, the Bulldogs are averaging a healthy 79.4 ppg while
permitting 63.2 ppg. The Zags are shooting 51.2 percent from the floor, which
includes a 36.5 percent showing from beyond the arc. They typically control
the glass without much trouble, laying claim to a +7.3 rebounding
differential, and they are +2.7 in turnover margin as well.
The Sports Network