FACTS & STATS: Site: EnergySolutions Arena (19,120) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: BYUtv. Home Record: Montana 2-0, BYU 4-0. Away Record: Montana 1-1, BYU 0-0. Neutral Record: Montana 0-0, BYU 0-2. Conference Record: Montana 0-0, BYU 0-0. Series Record: BYU leads, 23-10.
GAME NOTES: Undefeated in four games at home in Provo, the BYU Cougars now try to win away from the Marriott Center for the first time in 2012-13 as they challenge the Montana Grizzlies in non-conference action at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night.
Now a member of the West Coast Conference, the Cougars lost a pair of neutral- site outings against Florida State and Notre Dame in the middle of the month, but have since rebounded to register victories over Texas-San Antonio (81-62) and, most recently Cal State Northridge (87-75) on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies lost their season opener to Colorado State on the road, but have bounced back with three wins in as many outings. The first win of the year was a comfortable 82-53 final versus Minot State, but after that the contests became much tighter as the group survived against Idaho (66-63) and slipped by San Diego (67-66) in the final seconds on Saturday.
The Cougars lead the all-time series by a count of 23-10 and while Montana managed to win the last matchup, 76-72, that came almost 35 years ago.
Montana fell behind the Toreros immediately on Saturday as the visitors opened with a 7-0 run, so the Grizzlies were playing catchup much of the time. With just 2.5 seconds remaining in regulation Kevin Henderson played the hero for Montana as he knocked down a game-winning three-pointer, finishing with nine points off the bench as he nailed all but one of his four three-point tries. Mathias Ward also converted three triples, finishing with a game-high 23 points, while Kareem Jamar filled out his stat line with 11 assists, eight points and six rebounds. Ward, the leading scorer in two of the four games thus far, paces the group overall with his 15.8 ppg as he shoots an impressive 56.1 percent from the field. Jamar accounts for another 13.0 ppg to go along with 5.3 rpg and 5.0 apg as he does everything he can to get Montana into the win column.
In a game that featured nine ties and four lead changes, the Cougars picked the right time to surge ahead as they eventually won by double digits over Cal State Northridge this past weekend. Having yet another huge game for BYU was Tyler Haws who lit up the scoreboard for a career-high 32 points, sinking all 12 of his free-throw attempts. Brock Zylstra added 14 points, seven boards, five assists and a couple of steals, followed by Brandon Davies with 12 points and eight boards of his own. Haws has played big through the first six games of the season, scoring at least 20 points in every outing, his average of 23.3 ppg one of the highest in the nation at this stage. Not only has Haws made good on all but two of his 33 free-throw attempts, he is also one of the leaders on the glass with 6.7 rpg and is second in assists with 19. Davies (18.2 ppg) is the top man on the boards with 7.3 rpg.
With the pairing of Haws and Davies the Cougars have a very successful one-two punch that is capable of attacking both on the inside and out on the perimeter, something the Grizzlies will have a tough time countering.