BYU Sports

BYU basketball: Cougars lead the West in attendance, and other notes

First Published      Last Updated Feb 06 2017 04:09 pm

Scattershooting today on a variety of BYU basketball-related topics:

BYU has two road games this week, traveling to beautiful Malibu to take on Pepperdine on Thursday and to the City by the Bay on Saturday to take on the San Francisco Dons. The Cougars have lost three straight games at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse and have never lost at USF since they joined the WCC.

Of course, the Cougars defeated the Waves 99-70 and the Dons 85-75 in Provo last month, but they can't count on either game this week as being a sure win, because of the way they've played away from the Marriott Center.

In case you missed it, here's an analysis piece I wrote for Sunday's newspaper about the Cougars' inability to find that next gear and move up another level in the WCC, or even meet expectations this season — which were obviously too high.

Thursday's 85-75 loss to the Zags, which drew a sellout crowd of 18,987 to Provo, kept BYU ahead of Arizona as the top school in terms of attendance in the Western United States.

BYU, which is No. 14 overall, is averaging 14,726 fans per game, just 71 fans on average behind No. 13 Michigan State.

Arizona is averaging 14,332 with an arena capacity of 14,644.

Utah (12,427) is 23rd nationally, Utah State (6,801) is 76th and Weber State (6,666) is 78th.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few always praises the Marriott Center crowd after visits to Provo, and this year was no exception.

He did have an interesting take on what drives BYU's supporters earlier in the week to John Feinstein of the Washington Post, telling the renowned writer this:

"The fans there look at sports as a way of showing people how great their way of life is, and to beat a team like ours almost becomes a basketball crusade."

Feinstein interpreted Few's "way of life" comment to be the LDS religion.

After downing BYU by 10 and crushing Santa Clara 90-55 two nights later in Spokane without BYU-killer Nigel Williams-Goss (ankle), the Zags remained No. 1 in both major college basketball polls released Monday.

Their lead in the AP Top 25 shrunk from 90 points over Baylor last week to 54 over Villanova this week. In the USA Today poll, Gonzaga stayed in front of No. 2 Kansas, but by just 23 points instead of 36 the previous week.

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