Mountain West (27-7, 14-2)
Big Wins: 11/23 vs Louisville (78-76), 2/16 UNLV (74-48), 2/26 at New Mexico (70-69)
Bad Losses: 12/29 at Boise State (70-73), 1/15 at UNLV (41-70), 2/23 at San Diego State (65-69)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, First Round loss to Xavier
Coach: Dave Rose (0-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Ben Murdock, Senior, Guardm, 4.0 ppg, 3.7 apg
Sam Burgess, Senior, Guard, 8.8 ppg, 2.0 apg, 3.6 rpg
Lee Cummard, Junior, Guard, 15.8 ppg, 3.5 apg, 6.4 rpg
Jonathan Tavernari, Sophomore, Guard, 13.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Trent Plaisted, Junior, Forward, 15.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Jimmer Fredette, Freshman, Guard, 6.9 ppg, 1.7 apg
Chris Collinsworth, Freshman, Forward, 3.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
BYU’s solid defense will keep them in any game. The team allows its opponents to shoot under 39 percent and few teams will have a better number than that. The team’s field-goal percentage on the offensive end is not as good as it was last season, but that is not the fault of Lee Cummard or Trent Plaisted.
Cummard shoots an incredible 56.9 percent from the floor. For a big man that is a good number, but for a guard who will take almost four long balls per game, that is an absolutely amazing number. Cummard, at 6-7, will not take all of his shots from outside and he does a decent job of finishing around the basket. Plaisted is the interior scoring threat and a great rebounder. Due to Plaisted, Cummard and fellow double-digit scorer Jonathan Tavernari, BYU ranks in the top 35 in rebounding margin.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The shooting percentage might be high, but the free-throw percentage is not. The majority of that can be blamed on Plaisted who gets to the line more than twice as much as anybody else and shoots a dreary 54.5 percent. All the other regular starters shoot over 80 percent from the charity stripe so as long as the Cougars keep the ball out of Plaisted’s hands late in the game it will not be a big issue. The turnover numbers are a little high, but a bigger concern in March might be the lack of depth. Freshman Jimmer Fredette is a decent sharpshooter off the bench and Chris Collinsworth gives the team another big man who can rebound, but that is pretty much where the bench ends.
Who To Watch:
Point guard Ben Murdock cannot be blamed for the turnovers as he dishes out 3.7 assists and only turns it over 1.5 times per game. Still, it is Murdock’s job to put his teammates in the best possible position to score. The senior rarely does any scoring, but he will have to keep the rest of the team happy by sharing the ball and keep the offense moving. If he can do that effectively, BYU could win a game or two.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.8 (71st in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.0 (52, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.1 (73, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.4 (8, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.3 (37, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.5 (70, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.3 (282, 9)
Rebound Margin: 5.2 (32, 1)
Assists Per Game: 17.3 (14, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.3 (167, 8)
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