BYU basketball: Cougars aim to keep Dons down in rematch
Provo • The season of discovery for BYU continues Saturday at the Marriott Center as the Cougars play host to former Kansas basketball star Rex Walters and his San Francisco Dons.
Tipoff is at 4 p.m. and the game will be televised live by BYUtv.
A lot of West Coast Conference teams are mysteries to the Cougars, but the Dons not quite as much because the Cougars faced them a little less than three years ago, winning 69-43 at EnergySolutions Arena.
Still, BYU coach Dave Rose said after Thursday's 73-65 win over Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles that it has been a challenge to figure out the tendencies of opposing teams and coaches in the WCC.
"Watching the end of the San Francisco game that [it] played last week [a 77-76 overtime loss to LMU], San Francisco made a huge run late to tie the game, and then it was close in overtime," Rose said. "But you don't have two, three, four years of experience [playing against them]."
If any word describes the Dons (0-2 WCC, 10-6 overall) it is balance. Four starters average between 14.8 points and 11.1 points per game: 6-8 senior Angelo Caloiaro (14.8), 6-9 junior Perris Blackwell (11.7), 6-4 senior Rashad Green (11.5) and 6-0 junior Michael Williams (11.1).
While the Cougars (2-1 WCC, 13-4 overall) were struggling to put away LMU on Thursday, the Dons were resting and preparing for their first trip to Provo, having defeated Morgan State 87-74 in a nonconference game on Tuesday.
Walters said in a video on USF's website that he has some familiarity with the Cougars.
"BYU is really good. They have been doing it for a while," Walters said. "They have been playing at a high level for a while, and now they join our conference. They will have more guys that can really shoot it than we have probably faced, maybe all year."
One of those guys is backup point guard Craig Cusick, who came off the bench Thursday to drill all three 3-pointers he attempted when starter Matt Carlino was struggling against the Lions. Cusick has made five straight 3-pointers the past three games.
"It is good to have Carlino [eligible] to play," Cusick said. "But at the same time, I just need to keep my focus. I am here, and I am trying to keep a team perspective. I am not thinking about my own personal minutes. When I am out there on the floor, I try to take advantage of those minutes I get. I trust our coaches. The minutes will work out themselves."
After facing the Dons, the Cougars have a midweek bye and won't play again until Jan. 14, hosting Santa Clara.
San Francisco at BYU
P At Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff • 4 p.m.
TV • BYUtv
Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Records • BYU 13-4, 2-1 WCC; San Francisco 10-6, 0-2
Series history • Tied, 5-5
Last meeting • BYU, 69-43 (Dec. 5, 2009)
About the Cougars • Junior Brandon Davies continues to play the best basketball of his career. He posted his third double-double in four outings during the 73-65 win over Loyola Marymount with 15 points and 10 rebounds. â¦ Noah Hartsock continues to lead them in scoring, averaging 17.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. â¦ Craig Cusick is shooting 83.3 percent from 3-point range the last four games.
About the Dons • Former Kansas star Rex Walters, in his fourth season as USF's coach, has a 52-58 record. â¦ Four players are scoring in double figures, led by 6-foot-8 forward Angelo Caloiaro (14.8 ppg.) and 6-9 forward Perris Blackwell (11.7 ppg.). â¦ They are scoring 73.3 ppg. and allowing 67.4 ppg.