BYU basketball: WCC nemesis LMU next up for homestanding Cougars
Provo • Since joining the West Coast Conference three years ago, the BYU Cougars own just one win against perennial powers Gonzaga and Saint Mary's, having defeated the Zags 83-73 in Provo in their first season in the league.
They own winning records against all the other teams in the WCC, but one in particular has given BYU fits, defeating the Cougars twice, including two weeks ago.
That would be the Loyola Marymount Lions, who roll into the Marriott Center on Saturday night (7 p.m., BYUtv) for a rematch of their 87-76 win in Los Angeles back on Dec. 28. The Lions (2-3, 10-7) defeated San Diego two days after downing BYU, but have lost their last three games, including a 74-67 setback at San Diego on Thursday night while the Cougars were inching past Pepperdine.
Still, the Cougars (2-2, 10-7) are expecting another difficult time with LMU.
"We've got our hands full with this team," coach Dave Rose said.
Of course, LMU's demolition of the Cougars the Lions led by as many as 21 points in the league-opener despite a mostly BYU crowd at Gersten Pavilion is fresh on his mind. Freshman Evan Payne scored a career-high 27 points and point guard Anthony Ireland controlled the game with 14 points and nine assists.
LMU surprised the Cougars 82-68 at the Marriott Center back in 2012 and always seems to match up well against BYU.
"What is really difficult for us is they spread us out," Rose said. "They isolate us. They love to play one-on-one, and it is hard to give [defensive] help, because their spacing is so good, and they have got three post guys who demand some real attention.
"Anthony Ireland may be as good as any point guard on the West Coast," Rose continued. "He can really control a game."
The Cougars fell behind 17-5 at LMU, and never got closer than 10 the rest of the way. They've started much better the past two games in wins over San Diego and Pepperdine, but nearly blew an early 12-0 lead against the depleted Waves on Thursday night.
"Things got a little bit soft, with a couple of substitutions, and we had some errors," Rose said. "But I think that we will get the guys in here [Friday], try to get on the right page, and try to get ready for Loyola."
Aside from LMU's prowess against them, the Cougars' most pressing concern is the condition of freshman forward Eric Mika, who missed the Pepperdine game with a hip contusion. Mika was one of the few bright spots two weeks ago against LMU, scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds despite playing just 26 minutes due to foul trouble.
"He doesn't feel like he has a lot of power in his leg, and he probably would have just drug it around [if he played Thursday]," Rose said. "So he got some more treatment. He will get some more treatment [Friday] â¦ and see how he feels on Saturday."
Loyola Marymount at BYU
O At the Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff • Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • BYUtv
Radio • 1160 AM/102.7 FM
Records • BYU 10-7 (2-2); Loyola Marymount 10-7 (2-3)
Series history • Tied, 4-4
Last meeting • Loyola Marymount 87, BYU 76 (Dec. 28, 2013)
About the Lions • They have lost three straight games, including a 74-67 setback at San Diego on Thursday night in which G Anthony Ireland scored 18 points before fouling out. Evan Payne, who had a career-high 27 points in their win over BYU two weeks ago, added 17. â¦ They were 8 for 17 from the 3-point line against the Cougars in that win.
About the Cougars • Tyler Haws scored a season-high 35 points in their 84-72 win over Pepperdine on Thursday and became the third-fastest Cougar (86 games) to reach 1,500 career points. Only Danny Ainge and Kresimir Cosic did it quicker. â¦ Freshman F Eric Mika did not play against the Waves due to a sore hip and is questionable for Saturday's game.
A closer look
BYU against Loyola Marymount in the WCC:
Date Result Location
Jan. 5, 2012 BYU 73, LMU 65 Los Angeles
Jan. 19, 2012 LMU 82, BYU 68 Provo
Jan. 3, 2013 BYU 92, LMU 51 Provo
March 2, 2013 BYU 73, LMU 70 Los Angeles
Dec. 28, 2013 LMU 87, BYU 76 Los Angeles