Keys to Beating the Aztecs
If you’re like me you’ve had January 26th marked on your calendar, highlighted in anticipation of the showdown between the 4th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs (20-0, 5-0) and the No. 9 BYU Cougars (19-1, 5-0).
San Diego State is one of two undefeated teams remaining in college basketball, and has now cracked the Top 5.
Both teams have taken care of business in conference, and have won games on the road in tough college basketball atmospheres. Wednesday night will be no exception for this game in Provo.
Expect the Marriott Center to be packed with Cougar fans cheering on their team, for the biggest game in Mountain West Conference history.
For the Cougars to be successful they will need to impose their will on the Aztecs and execute the game plan Coach Rose and his staff has prepared.
A big key to executing the plan will be the big men staying out of foul trouble and on the floor. Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock have been playing extremely well of late, but have been hampered throughout the year with foul trouble.
This Aztec team is the most athletic team BYU will have faced up to this point. Along with the athleticism, they are very long and are playing very good basketball, shooting over 49.2% from the field — good for 7th in the nation. Solid defense and the ability to keep SDSU off the glass will be crucial for BYU’s success.
Along with the defense by the big men, they will need to play well on the offensive end as well.
Davies has shown he can be dominant on the low block, and Hartsock has worked hard on his outside shot and rebounding ability. Establishing an inside presence will go a long way in relieving some of the pressure on Jimmer and Jackson on the outside, and could be a big deciding factor in the game.
SDSU isn’t known for its outside shooting, so we may see some zone defense by the Cougs, but rebounding out of the zone will be a must. Point guard D.J. Gay proved he has range by hitting seven threes against New Mexico at the Pit.
Kyle Collinsworth is coming off his best performance as a Cougar in Fort Collins by scoring 16 points on 6-8 shooting and grabbing 6 rebounds to go with 6 assists. He will also play a big part in the success for this BYU team that relies so heavily on their two senior guards. We have also seen Kyle getting minutes at the back-up point guard when Jimmer sits. Kyle’s versatility and quickness at 6’7”, and his ability to play multiple positions on the floor is proving to be huge.
This game will be a circus, full of hype, publicity, and speculation. If the Cougars can keep their big men on the floor, get the job done on the defensive end, and rebound the ball, they will win.