Brigham Young Looking to Bolster NCAA Tournament Resume, Hosts Utah State

Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sports

According to the ever-changing world of Bracketology, the BYU Cougars are on the outside looking in as of now. Utah State, their opponent tonight in a non-conference matchup, is even further out, thanks to two key injuries (leading scorer Preston Medlin and third-leading scorer Kyisean Reed).

This game is a makeup of a game originally scheduled for December 5th, when the Aggies were almost healthy and 4-1 while the Cougars were 5-3.

The reason for the postponement was USU junior forward Danny Berger‘s December 4th collapse at practice. Berger was tended to on the court by the USU Athletic Training staff, CPR was performed and the AED (automated external defibrillator) was used on him until ambulance personnel arrived, according to the Utah State athletic website. He was released on December 8th but remains sidelined the rest of the season.

Utah State comes in having won three straight on the road–albeit against three of the lesser WAC teams. A win tonight would speak volumes for their tournament resume. They’re currently 18-6 on the year, but a pedestrian 4-4 without Medlin and Reed. The duo accounted for over 40% of their offensive output but the Aggies other options, as they always had. Jarred Shaw (14.1 ppg) and Spencer Butterfield (11.6 ppg) still have them competing night in, night out, but having two scorers as opposed to four makes it a bit tougher.

For the College Insider Mid-Major No. 14 BYU Cougars, it’s almost impossible for them to catch Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference standings, though the Zags have four WCC games remaining while BYU only has three. The Cougars trail the league leader by 3.5 games and won;t make up any ground in this one.

At 19-8, they’re a threat to win every time they step on the court but recent inconsistent play has done some damage to their bubble chances. A recent two-game losing streak to a mediocre San Diego Toreros squad and a underachieving San Francisco Dons team caused them to lose some ground to the Zags. Their offense is not an issue, as Tyler Haws (21 ppg) leads an offense that averages 78.3 points per game. It’s the defense, which has given up 81 ppg over the past four games, during which the Cougs are 2-2.

They’ll need a win tonight to keep their bubble hopes alive.

BYU is a big favorite tonight at the Marriot Center in Provo, where the Cougars are 12-2. Utah State, thanks to the aforementioned injuries, just won’t have the firepower to hang with the home team.

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