In tonight’s West Coast Conference Semifinals matchup between the No. 3 San Francisco Dons and the No. 2 BYU Cougars, the game will likely be decided by the final possession or two. Here are the keys to the game, looking at the two previous matchups between the two:
The Cougars wins if:
- They control the glass. In BYU’s win in Provo, the Cougars out-rebounded the Dons 47-29, for a leading margin of 18 boards. This includes a whopping 20 offensive rebounds to San Francisco’s five. This translated to 13 second-chance points for the Cougars – a six-point margin between the Dons. The Cougars won the game by five points, showing the importance of winning the glass.
- They get to the line (and make their free throws.) In the two BYU wins combined, the Cougars went to the line 66 times as compared to just 35 times for the Dons. BYU made 42 of the free throw shots for a 63.6 percentage, so BYU will need to shoot at least seven percentage points better to make them count. But the physicality and aggressive moves to the rim have an added bonus – getting San Francisco in foul trouble. In both games, the Dons had one key player foul out and five other players with four fouls each.
- They make at least four or five three pointers. If BYU can show 3-point shooting range, it will force the defense to play up on the shooters more, freeing up Eric Mika in the post and Tyler Haws off pump fakes. BYU shot 45.5 percent from beyond the arc in San Francisco, including three treys from Matt Carlino. After not making a three-pointer against Loyola Marymount, the Cougars are due to knock some down.
- The bigs play aggressively and actively look for their shots. Mika scored 11 in San Francsico and 13 points and 13 rebounds in Provo, while Nate Austin added a career-high 16 boards at home. If the Cougar big men are that aggressive and look to score more points, it will put pressure on the smaller San Francisco team and open up perimeter shots from some of the best players in that category in the conference.
The Dons win if:
- THEY control the glass. In the first game in San Francisco, San Francisco out-rebounded BYU 40-29, including a 16-9 offensive rebound advantage. Cole Dickerson led the charge in that game, as he has throughout the year, grabbing 14 boards. Even though BYU won that game, rebounding will prove to be a greater advantage tonight. It can almost come down to whoever wins the glass; wins the game.
- They shoot a high percentage from 3. Who can forget the 2012 game in Provo, where BYU led by double digits at halftime, but San Francisco stormed back in the second half, scoring nearly 50 points and poured it in from 3? The Dons started Saturday’s game against San Diego, by nailing four of their first five treys, setting the tone. If San Francisco can consistently knock down the outside shots, BYU will be put under a lot of pressure.
- They control the tempo. San Francisco averages 75.3 points per game, which is actually a pretty high clip in the NCAA’s. But BYU plays at a different pace altogether, as the Cougars average 85 per game, one of the highest scoring and fastest teams in the nation. When the Cougars are allowed to run, they will run just about any team out of the arena. So if the Dons rein in the fast-flying Cougars, and force them to play a little slower, the Dons could win this game.
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