Tonight: BYU hosts Gonzaga in pivotal battle
Published: February 2, 2012 08:09AM
Updated: February 2, 2012 09:29AM
Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Brigham Young Cougars forward Noah Hartsock (34) grabs a rebound as St. Mary's Gaels guard Matthew Dellavedova (4) defends, in basketball action, BYU vs. St Mary's in the Marriott Center in Provo, Saturday, January 28, 2012.

Provo • BYU could help its chances of earning an NCAA basketball tournament with a victory Thursday night against highly-regarded Gonzaga in the Marriott Center.

The 9 p.m. nationally televised West Coast Conference game on ESPN2 should draw a sellout crowd.

Gonzaga, ranked 24th in the country, brings a 17-3 overall record and 7-1 league mark into the game. The Bulldogs trail St. Mary’s in the league standings.

BYU is 18-6 overall and 6-3 in conference play, where the Cougars are tied for third with Loyola-Marymount. BYU has recent home league losses to St. Mary’s and Loyola-Marymount, making getting a victory over Gonzaga important for seeding in the conference tournament as well as a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.

BYU is led by Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies. Gonzaga features a balanced attack led by Elias Harris, Kevin Pangos and Robert Sacre.