The Utes return to the Huntsman Center to take on BYU on Wednesday night, the first game between the two at Utah’s home area since the infamous 2015 game where Nick Emery took a swipe at Brandon Taylor. The Utes are coming off of a win last week against UC Davis, and are looking to keep building their identity, and will have a good test against a BYU team that is welcoming back Yoeli Childs. Childs absolutely abused the Utes last season, and this young team of Utah may have some troubles containing him, but maybe the rust will slow him down.
The Utes need to make sure they limit turnovers against BYU, and keep the ball moving. This Utah team can’t play hero ball. If they move the ball and play in the system, they’ll get some good looks, they just need to knock them down. The Utes need to also defend the three point line. As you’ll see in the scouting report below, this time loves to put it up from three, so Utah needs to make sure they have a hand in their face. I’m really interested to see how point guard Rylan Jones plays in this game, and if he can keep Utah on track when emotions get high. The barometer for the Utes is Both Gach. If he is productive, the Utes will have a chance to win the game. If he’s off, then it could be a long night.
From the official release from the Utah SID, here’s the breakdown of the Cougars, which will give you some insight if you haven’t watched them play this year (because I know I haven’t):
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
BYU enters the rivalry game 6-3 on the year after coming off a great showing at the Maui Invitational followed by a dominant win at home against Montana Tech. The Cougars took down UCLA 78-63 in its opening game in Maui before falling to Kansas 71-56 and finished it off with a nice 90-77 win over Virginia Tech for third place.
Head coach Mark Pope is in his first year leading the Cougars after spending the last four season down the road at Utah Valley. While with the Wolverines, Pope posted a 77-56 (.579) overall record.
Utah Valley transfer and 2019 WAC Player of the Year Jake Toolson leads the team with 15 points per game, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Meanwhile, redshirt senior TJ Haws is averaging 14 points 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds. Junior Alex Borcello rounds out the list of double-digit scorers for BYU checking in with 10.2 points per game. Kolby Lee, a 6-9 forward, is nearly averaging in double-figures scoring 9.4 points per game with 3.7 rebounds per game.
The Cougars have been very efficient and effective from beyond the arc this season with five different players knocking down 10 or more from 3-point range. As a team, they are fifth in the country with 89 made 3-pointers and 25th in the nation with a .399 shooting clip from downtown. In addition to shooting the ball from deep well, BYU has also been big on sharing the ball checking in at No. 6 in the NCAA with 147 assists on the year. Toolson paces the team so far, knocking down 21 from beyond the arc while Haws is just short with 17 of his own. Barcell has drained 12 so far while Dalton Nixon and Zac Seljaas have made 10 apiece. Connor Harding is just shy with nine shots made from downtown.
Tip off: 6pm
TV: Pac-12 Networks