BYU (20-8) at Saint Mary's-CA (22-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 21, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKeon Pavilion (3,500) -- Moraga, California. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: BYU 13-2, SMC 13-1. Away Record: BYU 5-4, SMC 8-2. Neutral Record: BYU 2-2, SMC 1-2. Conference Record: BYU 9-4, SMC 11-2. Series Record: BYU leads, 8-5.
GAME NOTES: The BYU Cougars hope to carry the momentum from a thrilling win on Tuesday night into a West Coast Conference showdown against the Saint Mary's Gaels at McKeon Pavilion on Thursday.
Two nights ago, the Cougars took a break from their conference slate to do battle with in-state rival Utah State in a game that had been originally scheduled earlier in the season but had to be postponed after a USU player collapsed during practice. The makeup date had plenty of drama, with the most exciting part coming in the final second of regulation as Craig Cusick collected a rebound and dropped in the game-winning shot with just 0.2 second remaining.
For the Cougars, who are third in the WCC standings with a record of 9-4, the non-conference victory was the second straight triumph overall for the program, after it had dropped back-to-back decisions to San Diego and San Francisco.
As for the Gaels, who like everyone else in the West Coast Conference are trailing third-ranked Gonzaga this season, they've won 10 of their last 11 outings thanks to a 61-50 victory over Loyola Marymount on the road last weekend. Saint Mary's is now 11-2 in league play and 22-5 overall with a total of four regular-season games remaining before the start of the WCC Tournament.
The first meeting between these two teams appeared to be going in favor of the Cougars at home back in the middle of January, but a buzzer-beater by SMC's Matthew Dellavedova changed all that in a 70-69 final at the Marriott Center. As a result of that miraculous finish, the all-time series now favors BYU by a count of 8-5, although SMC has won all three meetings with the teams both being members of the WCC.
Cusick shot just 1-of-7 from the floor, finishing with four points and five rebounds for the Cougars versus Utah State, but he still played the hero for the hosts when he knocked down the game-winning shot with less than a second to play. Tyler Haws was the game's high scorer with 27 points, followed by Brandon Davies and Brock Zylstra with 10 points apiece. BYU survived despite shooting just 26.7 percent from the floor in the second half, including 1- of-10 beyond the arc in the period.
Haws has been dominant all season long for the Cougars and is now averaging 21.1 ppg in league action, playing more than 35 minutes per game along the way. Davies, who doesn't have the weight of the world on his shoulders this season, is responsible for 15.8 ppg and is tops with 7.5 rpg. Matt Carlino, who attempted to win the game on Tuesday with a 3-pointer from the top of the key that bounced off the front of the rim and into the waiting hands of Cusick, checks in with 15.4 ppg and is first with both 66 assists and 36 steals in 13 league bouts.
Dellavedova scored just eight points, shooting 1-of-5 from the floor, and handed out three assists in 37 minutes of action last Saturday against LMU, but the good news is that the Gaels still won which is certainly a good sign. Without their star having a great outing, the Gaels were able to lean a little more on Stephen Holt and Jorden Page who posted 16 and 12 points, respectively, in the triumph. More importantly, the defense came up big by holding the hosts to just 30.4 percent shooting from the floor.
Now shooting only 39.2 percent from the floor in conference play, Dellavedova has been exposed a few times by opponents, yet that has not derailed the Gaels in any way. The star guard is still the leading scorer (14.1 ppg) and first in assists (82), while Holt (12.4 ppg) and Beau Levesque (11.5 ppg) handle a good portion of the offense when needed. The squad is putting up 72.9 ppg, but more importantly, holding WCC foes to just 61.7 ppg and that's tough to combat.
Having to turn around and play such an important game in conference after a thrilling victory only 48 hours earlier is not an easy trick for any team. The Cougars are on the road for this one so that adds to their underdog status, but the manner in which they lost the first meeting of the season is still burning inside them.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 73, Saint Mary's-CA 67
02/21 10:30:42 ET