WCC Tournament: BYU – Santa Clara preview

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Ari Davis
Zac Seljaas shoots a 3-pointer against Santa Clara January 7. The Cougars face the Broncos in the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament Saturday. (Ari Davis)

BYU men’s basketball takes on Santa Clara Saturday, March 5 at 2 p.m. (MST) at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the first quarterfinal game of the West Coast Conference tournament. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv.

Last year’s tournament match-up: The Cougar beat the Broncos in a narrow 78-76 win in the quarterfinals of last year’s WCC tournament.

Regular season meetings: BYU swept the Broncos this season, earning two wins by an average margin of 35 points. Senior guard Kyle Collinsworth earned his ninth career triple-double in the Cougars’ 97-71 victory over the Broncos Jan. 7 in Provo. BYU responded to a disappointing Pacific loss by crushing Santa Clara 96-62 on the road February 13. Freshman guard Nick Emery scored a career-high 37 points, breaking Danny Ainge’s all-time BYU freshman single-game scoring record.

Momentum factor: BYU heads into the game looking to rebound after finishing regular season play with a heartbreaking 71-68 loss to Gonzaga. Santa Clara defeated Pacific 69-65 in its final regular season game and hopes to feed on that momentum.

What a win means: The Cougars are hungry for another shot at the Bulldogs, and beating the Broncos gives them the chance to do so. Assuming Gonzaga beats Portland later on Saturday (the Zags are 2-0 against the Pilots this season), BYU and Gonzaga could meet Monday in the semifinals.

Players to watch: Collinsworth leads the NCAA in career triple-doubles with 11 and averaged 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game for the Cougars in conference play this season. Collinsworth’s ability to rebound the basketball gives the Cougars a strong advantage on the glass.

For the Broncos, Jared Brownridge is an incredible scorer. The junior forward is averaging 20.3 points per game – good for second best in in the WCC. Collinsworth described Brownridge as as being able to “hit tough shots in your face.” Brownridge scored 16 points in each game against the Cougars this season and is tied for 24th nationally in 3-pointers with 88.

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