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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKeon Pavilion (3,500) -- Moraga, California. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: BYU 12-1, SMC 14-1. Away Record: BYU 3-8, SMC 5-4. Neutral Record: BYU 2-1, SMC 0-2. Conference Record: BYU 9-5, SMC 9-4. Series Record: BYU leads, 9-6.
GAME NOTES: The BYU Cougars will try to snap a three-game road losing streak on Saturday when they battle the Saint Mary's Gaels in a pivotal West Coast Conference matchup at McKeon Pavilion.
Saint Mary's is ahead of BYU for second place by just a half-game in the WCC standings entering the weekend. The Cougars coasted to a 73-51 victory over the Gaels when these schools met on Jan. 2 in the first installment of the home and home series. Thanks to that win, BYU holds a 9-6 all-time series lead versus SMC.
BYU had a four-game winning streak snapped on Thursday as it suffered an 89-82 setback at Pacific. The Cougars' loss to the Tigers dropped their overall standing to 17-10, including a 3-8 mark in true road tests. Coach Dave Rose's team managed to jump out to a 9-0 lead over Pacific and was in front by three points at halftime. BYU could not keep up the momentum and was outscored, 54-44, in the second half. The Cougars' uptempo style of play has propelled it to an average of 86.5 ppg, which ranks second nationally. They are also sixth among Division I schools in rebounds per game (41.9) and 14th in assists per game (16.3).
Randy Bennett's Gaels passed BYU in the conference standings on Thursday as they coasted past San Diego to a 69-57 decision. The win marked the third in a row and lifted SMC to a 19-7 overall record which includes a 14-1 ledger in home games. The Gaels have managed to come out of 46 of their last 49 games at McKeon Pavilion with a win. As a team, SMC is producing 74.3 ppg, while limiting its foes to 65.7 ppg.
The Cougars have received a strong and consistent contribution throughout their campaign from Tyler Haws, who has scored in double figures in every game this season and paces the WCC in scoring with 24.3 ppg. The junior guard finished with 20 points at Pacific, while sixth man Matt Carlino was poured in a game-high 28 points. Skyler Halford and sophomore swingman Kyle Collinsworth chipped in with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Although it was defeated, BYU made it clear that the opposition cannot focus on Haws with Carlino (13.8 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Collinsworth (14.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 4.9 apg) rounding out the elite backcourt. Freshman forward Erik Mika is adding 12.6 ppg and 6.6 rpg, but finished with only four points and the same number of personal fouls in his last outing.
One game after Stephen Holt stole the show versus Pepperdine with a career- high 29 points, James Walker III decided it was his turn and pumped in 21 points against USD. Holt and Kerry Carter also helped on Thursday, netting 13 and 12 points, respectively. Brad Waldow, who finished with only six points versus USD, is still clearly the Gaels' leader with averages of 16.2 ppg and 7.4 rpg. Holt's recent surge has improved his scoring average to 14.3 ppg, and Beau Levesque (10.5 ppg) and Carter (10.3 ppg) are both proven assets on the offensive end as well. Carter is fourth in the WCC in makes from beyond the arc per game (2.2) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (.424).
BYU appears to be a powerhouse when its playing in front of its home crowd, but turns into a much weaker team when it is the visitor. The Gaels have enough firepower to match the Cougars on any given night and SMC's homecourt advantage will most likely play a role in the outcome.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's 89, BYU 85
02/15 10:19:49 ET
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