BYU (8-5) at Loyola Marymount (8-4)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 28, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gersten Pavilion (4,156) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: CSN. Home Record: BYU 5-1, LMU 3-0. Away Record: BYU 1-2, LMU 2-2. Neutral Record: BYU 2-2, LMU 3-2. Conference Record: BYU 0-0, LMU 0-0. Series Record: BYU leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: West Coast Conference play begins for the BYU Cougars and the Loyola Marymount Lions, as the two are set to tip it off at Gersten Pavilion.
BYU has lost three of its last four contests, including a hard-fought 100-96 overtime setback at 12th-ranked Oregon last weekend. The Cougars have not played a home game since Dec. 11 and won't do so again until they host San Diego on Jan. 4.
At 8-4, Loyola Marymount is entering WCC play with its best record since 2004-05. The Lions ended their non-conference slate with a 100-83 triumph over La Sierra last weekend in the third annual LMU Holiday Classic at Gersten Pavilion.
BYU owns a 4-3 edge in the head-to-head series, which includes a 73-70 win over the Lions in last year's regular-season finale.
The Cougars shot better from the field than Oregon in last Saturday's matchup, and they also held a 51-40 rebounding advantage. However, the Cougars did not help their cause at the free-throw line, where they connected on only 22-of-36 attempts (.611). BYU also shot 0-for-5 from 3-point range in overtime. Tyler Haws had a game-high 32 points in the loss, pacing five Cougars in double figures. Matt Carlino recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Kyle Collinsworth dished out eight assists to go along with his 15 points. On the season, Haws tops the WCC in scoring with an average of 23.2 points per game, which is 4.0 ppg higher than the conference's next leading scorer. Carlino is eighth in the WCC, scoring 16.1 ppg.
LMU's Anthony Ireland is the league's No. 2 scorer behind Haws, averaging 19.2 points. Freshman Evan Payne is next in line with 14.1 ppg, followed by Gabe Levin with 12.7 points and a team-best 9.0 rebounds per tilt. Levin has sat out the last two games due to injury but is expected back for this afternoon's contest. Three players scored 20 points or more in the win over La Sierra, led by Payne's game-high 24 points off the bench. Senior Alex Osborne had a career-high 20 points and 17 rebounds in the win, while Ireland finished with 21 points to mark his 37th career 20-point game. As a team, the Lions had 30 assists on 39 field goals as they consistently found the open man.
LMU has stepped up its play of late, while the Cougars have sputtered a bit. Still, if the Lions hope to come out on top in this matchup, they'll need to pay close attention to Haws defensively.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola Marymount 72, BYU 67
12/28 10:43:47 ET