Aggies will have to figure out how to stop Tyler Haws
Utah State has a problem with guards.
OK, so the Aggies have lost a few guards themselves this year, but that's not the major issue ahead of playing BYU. Utah State fans should be worried about Tyler Haws and the damage he could do playing on the Cougars' home court.
His averages are slightly better at home, raising to 21.7 points per game and 50.5 percent shooting - fairly spectacular numbers for a jump shooter. Stew Morrill said as much during his press conference Monday.
"He has a scorer's mentality, they get him the ball in lots of different areas," he said. "We counted about 10 or 11 plays that they runs specifically to get him the ball. One he gets it, he scores it. He has a very impressive shooting percentage and the shots that he makes are open shots but he also makes contested shots."
But even beyond the statistics, this is why Utah State will be very concerned by Haws:
• Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary's - 21 points• Kevin Foster, Santa Clara - 27 points• TJ Carpenter, Nicholls State - 23 points• Desmar Jackson, Southern Illinois - 29 points• Brett Olson, Denver - 18 points on the road, 17 at home, including a game-winner• Brandon Gibson, La. Tech - 20 points
And those are just a few of the big ones against Utah State.
The Aggies have had difficulties guarding shooters this year. It's varied a bit, and it's gotten better as the season has progressed. Actually, the Aggies' defensive 3-point percentage is 33.3 percent, which is fairly good.
But a volume shooter like Haws can do some serious damage. Utah State is still a bit vulnerable around the perimeter, and if Haws can get to some of his hot spots, he has the potential to light up the scoreboard.
What makes it even tougher is that BYU runs one of the highest-tempo offenses in the nation. KenPom.com ranks the Cougars at No. 9 in the NCAA with a 72.0 adjusted tempo, meaning there's likely to be a lot of possessions in the game if BYU has its way. That means a lot of chances for Haws to get in rhythm.
Haws' worst game came against Gonzaga this year, when he went 0-9 and finished with a single point. The Bulldogs made him uncomfortable, Dave Rose said afterward, and got to the places where he got his feeds.
You can bet the coaching staff has looked at that tape. Even if the Aggies can't do the same things Gonzaga did in that game, they'll be looking for ideas and inspiration on how to get into Haws' head. Often, the thing that can shake a shooter the most is his own waivering confidence.
Utah State will likely try to limit second chances by crashing the boards - something the team is doing exceptionally well right now. The Aggies get offensive rebounds on 38.8 percent of their chances, also, which will help them keep up with the potentially explosive Cougars. Haws and Davies can't get second chances, especially if the game turns more into a speed-based contest.
BYU might be aiming for a game in which first team to 80 points wins. The Aggies will hope that number is closer to 65.
It will be interesting to see what Utah State might have up its sleeve to try and tilt the game more in its favor. It's already evident what Haws and company will want to do: score, and score often.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon
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