It?s another year and another No. 8 seed for BYU, which will open the NCAA Tournament today in Philadelphia against No. 9 seed Texas A&M for the second year in a row.
BYU (25-7) is hoping for a different outcome this time around after losing to the Aggies 67-62 in last season?s first round game in Anaheim.
?We return a lot of players that were successful from that game,? BYU coach Dave Rose said. ?Jimmer [Fredette], JT [Jonathan Tavernari] and Lee [Cummard] were all a big part of that game last year and [Josh] Carter, [Donald] Sloan and [Bryan] Davis were a big part for them. There are a lot of similarities, but the teams are two different teams ? that play similar to how they do last year. Different city, different venue, hopefully different outcome.?
Tavernari led the Cougars in last season?s game with 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting from the field, including 3-for-9 from the 3-point line. Cummard
scored 14 points and Fredette came off the bench to score 10 points and grab five rebounds.
?They?re very similar,? Cummard said. ?They lost some key pieces and we lost key pieces, but they?ve learned how to play without those pieces and play pretty well.?
Texas A&M (23-9) is led by Carter, who averages 14.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Carter was the force for the Aggies last season against BYU with his 26 points on 10-for-16 shooting from the field, including 6-for-10 from 3-point range.
?We?re going to get after their shooters a little bit more,? Fredette said. ?Josh Carter really killed us last year.?
Jackson Emery has regularly defended the Cougars opponent?s most prominent scorer this season, and has been given the assignment to control Carter.
?It?s going to be fun,? Emery said. ?Carter is an excellent player. This year I?ve had to defend some terrific players in James Harden [Arizona St], Jeff Teague [Wake Forest] and Wink Adams [UNLV], so I think those guys have prepared me more than anything.?
Carter is not the only weapon for the Aggies. Sloan averages 11.7 points and a team-leading three assists per game, Davis averages 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds, and Chinemelu Elonu averages 10.1 points and leads the team with 7.4 rebounds per game.
?They?re big and physical,? Cummard said. ?They get after it on the offensive glass. If we can limit their opportunities there it would help us a lot.?
Rebounding will be a key for the Cougars if they want to come out on top Thursday. Texas A&M out-rebounded the Cougars 36-23 in last year?s game.
?I remember from last year?s game how physical it was,? Cummard said. ?I think this year the Mountain West was as physical as it has been. That and the good teams we played are going to help us more than it did last year.?
Physical play and the hustle plays may decide which team moves on to the second round.
?The biggest key is getting out there and getting loose balls, being able to exceed the other team with more energy,? Fredette said. ?Whoever can do that will come out with the win.?
BYU last won an NCAA Tournament game in 1993 and has lost in its past six NCAA Tournament appearances. The game is at 10:30 a.m. MT and will be broadcast on CBS.