San Diego (13-17) vs. B-Y-U (24-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 2nd, 11 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (9,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: USD 6-8, BYU 13-3. Away Record: USD 4-7, BYU 8-3. Neutral Record: USD 3-2, BYU 3-1. Conference Record: USD 7-9, BYU 12-4. Series Record: BYU leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The third-seeded BYU Cougars will make their West Coast Conference Tournament debut tonight as they battle the sixth-seeded San Diego Toreros at Orleans Arena.
The Toreros are winless after four bouts with the Cougars in history. BYU dominated USD in the season-series, as it won by 36 points on its home floor before earning an 82-63 victory on the road.
San Diego advanced past Pepperdine in its second-round matchup behind a tremendous shooting performance. The Toreros connected on 56.3 percent of their field goals and hit 8-of-16 from three-point range to coast to a 76-54 victory over the Waves. Coach Bill Grier's team has now been on the winning end in five wins in its last seven conference games. The Toreros are one of just three teams to have won a WCC Conference Tournament title since 1998 as they were crowned champions in 2008.
USD will turn to its sensational freshman guard Johnny Dee once again tonight. Dee put on a shooting clinic against Pepperdine on Thursday night as he went 9-of-14 from the field including 6-of-9 from three-point range on his way to a career-high 30 points. Ken Rancifer was the only other player on the team reach double-figures as he added 12 points. Dee's freshman backcourt mate, Christopher Anderson, added nine points, seven rebounds, and five assists in the victory. All 11 of the Toreros who saw the floor managed to get on the scoreboard.
BYU has some momentum coming into postseason play as it won six of its last seven games to arrive at a 24-7 overall record. Coach Dave Rose has constructed a magnificent offensive powerhouse at BYU, as it leads the WCC and ranks 11th in the NCAA with 79.0 ppg and sixth with 17.3 assists per game. The Cougars are on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament, and while they might not need to win the WCC Championship to qualify, a win or two certainly would help their case. BYU was able to dominate USD in the rebounding battle in both of the regular season contests to average 18.5 rebounds more in the two-game series.
A reason for the Cougars' dominant performance on the glass against USD this season was Brandon Davies. The junior forward averaged 16.5 points and 17 rebounds in the two games as he physically overpowered the Toreros this season. Noah Hartsock led BYU this season with 16.8 ppg, but is going to need to shake off some rust as he will be returning from a knee injury. Freshman Matt Carlino had some big shoes to fill this season, as he took over for Jimmer Fredette as BYU's point guard. The rookie had a strong year with and carries averages of 13.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Whether Hartsock is 100 percent or not, BYU should be able to fend off USD for a third time. The Cougars will need their leading scorer to return to form when they face the top-tier opponents that will follow.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 77, San Diego 61
03/02 10:31:01 ET
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