For Utah to win tonight, it's key that Luke Nevill have a big game. Nevill has performed well against the Cougars and without a truly dominant interior defense from BYU this season, I expect that to happen. But the Cougars will do everything in their power to try and stop him, which means they will most likely zone him to death. To break down that zone defense, Utah will need the rest of the team to pick up the slack and if they don't, it will neutralize Nevill's height and provide a difficult challenge for the Ute offense.
If, though, the Utes can get their outside game to succeed and cut down on the turnovers, it will automatically force BYU's hand and essentially open up the offense for Nevill to control the inside game. But that can only happen if there is a threat outside of Nevill, if there isn't, there won't be any incentive to shut down the other parts of Utah's offense. So for the Utes to be successful, players like Shaun Green need to step up and hit their shots. If the Utes go cold, it's going to be a long night, because getting the ball into Nevill is not going to prove to be an easy task. However, if those shots fall, I expect Utah to play extremely well and most likely pull out a tough, close victory.
Obviously the Cougars are a good program. But they aren't as special as they looked a few weeks ago. There are some flaws with this team and in their last real big road game, at New Mexico, they wilted rather easily and lost the game by a wide margin. That's not how I see this game playing out, but I would not be surprised if it did. This Utah team is better than the one that nearly knocked off BYU here last year, but I'm not so sure the Cougars are any better than they were last season.
Regardless of what Utah needs to do, though, the bottom line is they need a win. Not only for Jim Boylen, but for the season. The Utes still have a shot at the NCAA Tournament and if they can win out at home, manage road wins over TCU, Wyoming and Colorado State, they could play their way into the Tournament. Lose tonight and that probably goes out the window. So victory is essential and expected, but it will take an entire team effort.