GameNight: BYU vs #6 Wake Forest

January 2nd, 2009
Jan 3 2009 - 8:00pm

Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay

 

Season:

14-5

 

 

The nation’s longest home winning streak belongs to BYU, as the Cougars have won 53 consecutive games at the Marriott Center and stand 116-10 on their home floor the past 8+ seasons.  BYU (11-1) will face their toughest challenge of the season when they host undefeated #6 Wake Forest (12-0) on Saturday.  With a seating capacity of 22,700, the Marriott Center is one of the most cavernous basketball arenas in the country.  The massive interior of the arena has caused many perimeter shooters problems with the difficult depth perception.  BYU has held a decided edge on their home floor, but the match-up and interior strength of Wake Forest could prove problematic in Provo Saturday.

 

Wake Forest features a big, physical front line with three powerful players patrolling the paint and banging the boards.  James Johnson and Chas McFarland join freshman phenom Al Farouq Aminu who leads the team in rebounding (9rpg) with all three players hitting over 50% of their shots and scoring over 10ppg.  Sophomore guard Jeff Teague leads the Deacons in scoring, assists and hits over 52% of his shots, while junior guard L.D. Williams has improved his shooting to join all Wake Forest starters hitting over 50% of their shots.  The overall improved play and from a deeper group of guards has relegated last year’s starting point guard and ultra quick player Ishmael Smith to a regular reserve role.  Wake Forest is averaging over 82ppg and a scoring margin over 22ppg.  Along with a dominating and determined Deacons defense that holds opposition to just 36% FG shooting and out-rebounds their opponents by over 11rpg, Wake Forest has the personnel and experience to end BYU’s 53-game home winning streak. 

 

BYU’s preferred play and strength is from the perimeter, where 6-7 senior guard Lee Cummard and junior swingman Jonathan Tavernari both score over 18ppg with Tavernari leading the team in rebounding (7rpg).  Cummard was last season’s Mountain West Conference co-player of the year and provides great leadership and a solid overall game.  The Cougars use a three-man rotation at center/power forward led by the improved play of Chris Miles.  But the overall lack of interior strength will be a tough match-up against the Demon Deacons. Sophomore point guard Jimmer Fredette has taken over a starting spot this season and leads the Cougars in assists while scoring 14ppg.  Fellow sophomore starting guard Jackson Emery is a solid shooter hitting over 55% of his shots and providing some solid strength defending the perimeter.

 

In last season’s meeting in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest dominated BYU 79-62 and locked down on the more experienced and solid BYU shooters.  Both BYU and Wake Forest are willing to push the pace and are among the nation’s best shooting teams with each hitting over 51% FG this season.  But Wake Forest’s imposing front line and solid perimeter defense can match-up well against BYU’s strength, and in a marquee non-conference match-up televised on the Mountain, we’ll call for the end of the nations longest home winning streak.

 

Winner:  Wake Forest               Margin:  2-6 points