BYU COUGARS

BYU Vs. LMU: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Feb 10, 2022, 1:45 PM
BYU Basketball - Alex Barcello...
Brigham Young Cougars guard Alex Barcello (13) dribbles down the court as BYU and San Diego play in an NCAA basketball game in Provo at the Marriott Center on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)
(Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Before this season, no one probably pegged BYU vs LMU to be a game with so much at stake. But that’s the reality of BYU’s situation at the moment. Amid a four-game losing streak, BYU can’t afford to drop a Quad 3 game on the road to a league foe.

If they suffer another setback, it could result in their bubbly NCAA Tournament resume popping.

Just six miles to the east of LMU’s campus will host America’s Big Game, Super Bowl LVI (on KSL 5 TV) at SoFi Stadium. There are no Super Bowl festivities on the docket for this BYU team that knows it’s a make-or-break time for them to return to the level of play they experienced just a few weeks ago. So to this BYU squad, tonight’s game feels just as big as the game everyone is waiting for this Sunday.

BYU vs. LMU

Tip: 9 p.m. (MT)

Location: Gersten Pavilion (Los Angeles)

TV: ESPNU

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Pregame begins at 8 p.m.)

Last meeting: BYU 88, LMU 71 – February 20, 2021, in Los Angeles

BYU staying upbeat despite losing streak

It would be easy that during a four-game losing streak, the first such skid for BYU in a conference since 2005, to assume that emotions would be down and out. However, that wasn’t the case during Tuesday’s practice in front of the media.

Players and coaches were in good spirits, smiling and laughing, while also playing with a high level of intensity that Mark Pope expects out of his teams. The mental side is vital for this BYU team as their confidence has been rattled.

They have to believe again to get back on the winning side of things. That appeared to be the case on Tuesday during practice. Now they have to execute.

If BYU gets guard Te’Jon Lucas back into the lineup, that will go a long way toward helping BYU get out of this four-game losing streak. Lucas practiced on Tuesday and made the trip to LA.

What to know about LMU

Like BYU, LMU is an undersized team. But they boast one of the WCC’s top power forwards in Eli Scott. The 6-foot-6 super senior is averaging 16.3 points per game this season.

The Lions had high aspirations coming into the year after a third-place regular-season finish in the WCC a year ago. However, second-year head coach Stan Johnson wrote a letter to LMU fans earlier this week apologizing for his team’s performance to this point in the season.

LMU is currently on a five-game losing streak and is 2-7 overall in WCC play.

During LMU’s five-game losing streak, three games were against Saint Mary’s or Gonzaga, with another on the road at surging Santa Clara.

Probable Starters

BYU (17-8, 5-5 WCC)

G – Alex Barcello, 6-2, 192, Sr.

G – Te’Jon Lucas, 6-1, 187, Sr.

G – Trevin Knell, 6-5, 197, Jr.

F – Gideon George, 6-6, 210, Sr.

F – Fousseyni Traore, 6-6, 254, Fr.

LMU (9-12, 2-7 WCC)

G – Joe Quintana, 6-2, 165, Sr.

G – Jalin Anderson, 6-3, 175, Soph.

F – Keli Leaupepe, 6-6, 245, Jr.

F – Eli Scott, 6-6, 232, Sr.

F – Alex Merkviladze, 6-8, 230, Soph.

BYU vs LMU Prediction

Both teams are desperately looking for a win to get some momentum back on their side. This is a game that is going to come down to defense. That, to me, favors BYU.

BYU wasn’t great defensively against Gonzaga, who did what they always do to WCC foes, overwhelm them from the get-go. But BYU has shown an ability to grind out games on the defensive end this season. Before this losing streak, BYU was pacing for one of the best defensive seasons in the last 20 years of the program per Ken Pom’s adjusted efficiency metrics.

This could also be a game where BYU’s offense gets back on track as the Lions are 322nd nationally in field goal percentage defense. LMU is allowing their opponents to shoot 46.3% from the field this season, and the Lions create many opportunities for their opponent by ranking 321st in assist to turnover ratio.

BYU won’t blow out LMU. But they’ll do enough to win this game and get back in the win column to keep the NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

BYU 71, LMU 65

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.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper. 

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