Round three preview: BYU vs. UCF in the Big 12 tournament

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — BYU will face familiar foe UCF in the second round of the Big 12 Tournament Wednesday at 10:30 am MDT.

The Cougars won the first two battles against the Golden Knights narrowly. The first matchup resulted in a rock fight — 63-58 — in Orlando and the second game was the complete opposite with the Cougars winning 90-88 in Provo.

UCF took care of business against Oklahoma State in its first-round matchup 77-62 Tuesday and the Knights were led by a dominant performance by center Ibrahima Diallo, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes.

Players to watch out for

UCF guard Darius Johnson had quite a bit of success against the Cougars this season averaging 19 points per game. But BYU’s focus will be on inside the paint with Diallo, who finished with 19 rebounds in the first matchup in Orlando.

BYU guard Dallin Hall will be key for the Cougars in this matchup. If Hall can limit turnovers and stay out of foul trouble, BYU will be in great shape Wednesday.

Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Jaxson Robinson is going to be the focus for UCF. Robinson is the Cougars leading scorer and had a game-high 21 points on 12 free throws against UCF in their last matchup at the Marriott Center.

Keys to the game

BYU lives and dies by threes. The Cougars are 22-2 when shooting 32% or better from long range. BYU is also 17-3 when they hit 10 or more threes in a game. The Cougars need to hit their threes, it’s as simple as that.

If BYU can spread the floor and knock down three’s early, it will likely keep Diallo off the floor like their second matchup in Provo.

The Golden Knights’ athleticism has been a problem for BYU in both games. The Cougars average 10.7 turnovers per game and UCF has caused them to finish above that in their previous two games.

If UCF wants to pull off an upset, the Golden Knights will need to limit BYU from beyond the arc and pressure ball handlers. If UCF can get BYU uncomfortable early in the game, it has a great shot at pulling off an upset.

The winner of Wednesday’s second-round game will face off against Texas Tech Thursday at 10:30 am MDT.

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