BYU faces challenge of Weber State's post players
In the recent past, whenever BYU and Weber State faced each other in basketball, the plot line was all about each team's NBA-ready guard Jimmer Fredette and Damian Lillard, respectively.
This time around, the guards for both teams, while not yet on that level, have quality, including BYU's Tyler Haws, who averages 20 points a game.
This time around, though, the outcome may well be decided where the big guys play. The guards and wings may lead their respective teams in scoring when the game tips off Saturday at 7 p.m. inside the Dee Events Center, but both teams want to establish inside dominance.
"They're an inside-out team, and they're going to battle us," said BYU forward and leading rebounder Brandon Davies.
Overall, BYU (6-3) has dominated the in-state series, winning 27 of the 37 meetings against WSU (4-2), which has won 20 straight on its home court. The Wildcats' last victory against BYU came in 2003 in Ogden.
"We're a lot more athletic this year," said Weber State center Kyle Tresnak, coming off a Big Sky Conference Player of the Week award after he averaged 20 points in a pair of victories against Utah Valley and UC Irvine. "We have a lot more opportunities to run. With the defensive mentality we have now, we're getting a lot more stops and not giving up easy shots."
Weber State averages more than four blocks a game and has dominated opponents on the defensive glass. In its victories, BYU has done nearly as well.
The Wildcats, after a slow start, have won three straight, including a come-from-behind road win at Dayton.
"They're a lot more balanced," BYU coach Dave Rose said of WSU in the post-Lillard era. "They sacrificed a little of their game for Lillard. Now they're getting a chance to show what they can do.
"They have two really good post players who can score, and then their guards are really versatile."
Weber State is also finding post help off the bench in freshman center Joel Bolomboy. He is the team's top rebounder and scores 71/2 points a game. Forwards Frank Otis and Davion Berry have combined for more than nine boards and 23 points an outing.
Meanwhile, as proved in its three losses, BYU cannot afford to have Davies, the Cougars' second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, off the floor with foul trouble.
BYU has enjoyed balanced rebounding as Josh Sharp and 6-foot-6 guard Brock Zylstra combine for more than nine a game. Ian Harward has been key off the bench in providing inside presence.
"Our coach preaches post defense," Otis said of WSU coach Randy Rahe. "Especially when we go up against BYU. [Offensively] we get going and then we get the guards going."
Of course, BYU looks forward to the challenge.
BYU at Weber State
P At Dee Events Center, Ogden
Tipoff • Saturday 7 p.m.
TV • BYUtv. Radio • 106.9FM, 1160AM
Records • BYU 6-3, WSU 4-2
All-time series • BYU, 27-10
Last meeting • BYU 94-66 (Dec. 7, 2011)
About the Cougars • BYU is coming off a 61-58 victory against Utah. ... The Cougars shoot 43 percent from the floor and average nearly 40 rebounds a game.
About the Wildcats • WSU has won 20 consecutive home games, the nation's fourth largest streak. ... The Wildcats have dropped nine straight games to BYU.