GAME NOTES: The BYU Cougars return to the Marriott Center to host the Pacific Tigers in a West Coast Conference clash.
Pacific has struggled in its first year in the WCC after coming over from the Big West, as it has dropped six of its first eight league games. However, the Tigers are looking to build on last Saturday's 76-66 win over Pepperdine. That victory came on their home floor, and tonight's contest is the first of four straight on the road.
BYU is back on campus after splitting a four-game road swing, although it lost the final two games of that trip, including last Saturday's 84-69 final versus Gonzaga. Things have gone much better for the Cougars in Provo though, as they are hoping to extend a five-game home win streak.
This bout marks the first meeting between these two teams since 1996. The all- time series is tied at 3-3.
Pacific shot a healthy 56 percent from the floor and sank 7-of-14 3-point tries in its win over Pepperdine. The Tigers also committed 20 turnovers, but after allowing Pepperdine to shoot 56 percent in the first half, they clamped down and limited the Waves to 31 percent shooting after halftime. Sama Taku led the way with a game-high 18 points behind a 7-of-10 effort from the floor, while backcourt mate Andrew Bock joined him in double figures with 12 points. The Tigers are putting up an average of 75.0 ppg this season and are shooting at a collective 36.1 percent clip from the perimeter, although they have allowed the opposition to average similar numbers. Taku leads the way with 12.4 ppg, while Bock (11.9 ppg) and Tony Gill (10.8 ppg) also average double figures.
BYU boasts the WCC's top scorer in guard Tyler Haws, a 44 percent 3-point shooter who is tallying 23.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per tilt. Matt Carlino (14.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg), Kyle Collinsworth (13.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.6 spg) and Eric Mika (13.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg) have also provided steady contributions for the Cougars, who entered the week as the nation's second-highest scoring team (87.5 ppg). The Cougars can hurt foes from the perimeter (.363) and they can also bang around in the paint, where they are +5.4 in rebounding margin. However, they struggled quite a bit at the offensive end against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who shot 57.4 percent from the floor, made 10-of-22 from 3-point range, and won by 15 points. Hawes paced BYU with 23 points in the loss.
The Tigers face another tall order here as they try to take down BYU on its home floor. The Cougars get the nod thanks to their offensive balance and tenacity on the boards.
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