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Challenging Test Awaits BYU Against Disruptive Boise State

Dec 8, 2020, 8:31 PM
Alex Barcello - BYU Basketball...
BYU basketball guard Alex Barcello is one of the nation's best in shooting the three. (Photo: Bob Blanchard / Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame)
(Photo: Bob Blanchard / Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame)

PROVO, Utah – BYU Basketball ended up last season as an offensive juggernaut, leading the nation in three-point shooting. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the high-flying Cougar offense. BYU had a slip up in the non-conference on the road against Boise State.

That game saw BYU fall to the Broncos in overtime 72-68, shooting only 29 percent from the three-point arc.

Boise State brings a new set of faces in their starting lineup in this year’s matchup, but one mainstay returns, and that’s 6-foot-9 guard Derrick Alston Jr. who scored 26 points in the game last year against BYU.

BYU Basketball looks to stop Boise’s Derrick Alson Jr.

“This Boise State team has an NBA Draft pick next year in this Alston,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “He’s just such a problem on all three levels scoring the ball, and he’s got tremendous length, which makes him difficult defensively.”

When Pope announced BYU’s non-conference schedule last month, Pope said there was a chance Boise State could be the toughest team on the Cougars out of conference schedule. Boise State enters the matchup against BYU with a 2-1 record. With the lone loss coming against No. 7 Houston.

“They’ve got a backcourt that’s really feisty and really athletic. They can really score the ball, and they’ve got some physicality up front with a great coach and a great scheme. They’re veteran guys. So it’s going to be a huge challenge.”

BYU’s Alex Barcello, who’s shooting 65 percent from three-point range this season, will be the point man trying to tackle on that feisty Boise State backcourt. He made to relay the message to this year’s team on what happened a year ago in Idaho.

“A.B. was telling us how last year they kind of went in there kind of trying to overlook them, thinking they’re gonna beat them just because, and they ended up getting beat,” said guard Brandon Averette. “We just talked about staying locked in and just doing what we need to do. Just knowing what we need to do that’s going to help us get this dub.”

BYU enters the game at 5-1 but is still learning the makeup of this team. This year’s team is still feeling out the challenges of playing in more crowded games around the rim. BYU has a lot more size and length than they did a year ago, where they ran a pistol offense that produced the best three-point shooting team in the land.

This year, BYU runs more high-and-low sets and plays around the basket to utilize the size and height. That size could be an advantage against a Boise team that features three guards in its lineups.

What you need to know about Boise State

Boise State currently ranks at No. 96 in the KenPom ratings. Last season, the Broncos finished with a 20-12 record. Derrick Alston Jr. is their leading scorer with 13.7 points per game, followed by RayJ Dennis (13.0) and Abu Kigab (12.7).

Leon Rice’s squad makes teams pay on the defensive end of the court. The Broncos are 10th nationally in turnover at (+8) per game, and they are 24th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 57.3 points per contest. The Broncos are currently 230th in effective field goal percentage at 45.0 percent per game on the offensive end.

This is BYU’s 15th meeting all-time against the Broncos, with Boise winning three of the last four meetings. The last time Boise State won in the Marriott Center was in 1996, during BYU’s one-win season.

What’s at stake for BYU/Boise State

BYU currently holds a 16-game home winning streak at the Marriott Center and looks to extend that against one of the preseason contenders in the Mountain West Conference.

Both teams are seeking a potential quality win that could help shape their NCAA Tournament resumes.

Projected Starting Lineups

BYU (5-1)

G – Alex Barcello, Sr.; 6-2, 180

G – Brandon Averette, Sr.; 5-11, 185

F – Connor Harding, Jr.; 6-6, 185

F – Caleb Lohner, Fr.; 6-8, 230

F – Matt Haarms, Sr.; 7-3, 250

Boise State (2-1)

G – RayJ Dennis, Soph.; 6-2, 180

G – Marcus Shave Jr., Jr.; 6-2, 185

G – Derrick Alston Jr., Sr.; 6-9, 190

F – Abu Kigab, Sr.; 6-7, 220

F – Mladen Armus, Jr.; 6-10, 232

How To Watch BYU Basketball vs. Boise State

Date: December 9th, 2020

Tip: 7 p.m. (MT)

TV: BYUtv

Channel:

Which Channel: DirecTV (374; for Utah customers – Ch. 11), Dish (4369), AT&T U-Verse (1567), Verizon FiOS (290, 289), Comcast XFinity (Utah – Channel 11)

Announcers: Dave McCann (Play-by-Play), Blaine Fowler (analyst), Spencer Linton (sideline)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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Challenging Test Awaits BYU Against Disruptive Boise State