As I noted in this preview of tonight's BYU basketball game at Southern Miss, the Cougars have yet to win a game this year that they were not supposed to win. Seeing as how they are 6-point underdogs tonight at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, it is going to take an effort heretofore not seen for BYU (23-11) if it is going to reverse that trend and pull off the upset against USM.
Looks like BYU will face not only a good USM team, but also a rowdy crowd in the game to be televised by ESPNU.
Green Coliseum seats around 8,000, and very well could be sold out before tipoff (6 p.m. MDT) tonight. The Golden Eagles drew 5,922 for Monday's win over Louisiana Tech, but averaged just 4,610 fans in regular-season games.
While we're passing out links, be sure to check out this feature on BYU volleyball star Ben Patch from the Tribune's Martin Renzhofer.
What do the Cougars have to do to win tonight? Obviously, Matt Carlino needs to continue his outstanding play as of late. He's averaging 19.0 points per game in the NIT, and probably needs close to 20 to help out the ever-consistent Tyler Haws.
Brandon Davies also needs to show up, play well, and stay out of foul trouble.
Davies should be able to have his way inside, because USM's tallest player (who plays a lot) is 6-foot-7 Daveon Boardingham.
Defensively, the Cougars' zone will be tested because USM is one of the best shooting teams in the country. The Golden Eagles haven't been great in NIT games, but this season they were 38.4 percent from 3-point range and 48.3 percent from the field, 11th-best in the country.
The best players are 6-5 senior forward Dwayne Davis, who averages 16.3 points per game, and 6-5 senior forward Jonathan Mills, who averages 9.4 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. Mills at least knows of BYU, having played at USU-Eastern in Price before transferring. USU Eastern was formerly known as the College of Eastern Utah.
The Cougars need to play free and loose on offense, as they have the past two games. They've hit the 90-point plateau in both NIT games, which has allowed them to win both rather easily. The Cougars are 45-0 when they score 90 or more points under coach Dave Rose.
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