Pepperdine Waves (14-7, 7-3) at BYU Cougars (15-7, 6-3)
When: 7 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Mountain, Saturday, January 30
Where: Marriott Center, Provo, Utah
Series: All-time BYU leads 9-8; Pepperdine won last meeting (1/23/16) 71-65 in Malibu.
Last Saturday Pepperdine and BYU met in Malibu and the Waves took third place in the WCC standings away from the Cougars. Today, in Provo, BYU will be looking for revenge. And once again third place is on the line.
The gargantuan, 18,987 capacity Marriott Center has seen nine BYU wins and no losses this season but tonight it will play host to what has become the WCC's giant killing team. The Waves, winners of four of their last five against BYU, knocked off the Cougars in Provo last season. It might seem like David vs. Goliath, but Pepperdine has all the pieces to pull off what would be another non-upset.
Scouting the Waves
Marty Wilson's Waves are balanced, with four players having recorded multiple 20-plus point games and five having led the team in scoring this season. While it's senior forward Stacy Davis (14.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg) who gets most of the attention, as a two-time all-WCC selection who is on pace to become the program's all-time leading scorer. The 6-foot-6 senior is a match-up nightmare in the post, where he is undersized but skilled and physical. He gets to the line and makes you pay, as evidenced by his active streak of 31 straight made free throws. But, critical to the Waves' success is that his supporting cast has really stepped up this season.
Lamond Murray Jr. has exploded in his junior season and leads the team with 16 points per game, nine more than his season average last year. Murray scored a team high 20 points in last week's win over BYU. Senior forward Jett Raines (12 ppg) added 18.
The balanced offensive attack up front for Pepperdine is made easy thanks to a duo of pass-happy guards. Junior point guard Jeremy Major (9.1 ppg, 3.8 apg) has big-game potential and when he gets fired up he turns into the emotional leader for the Waves. Tenth all-time at Pepperdine in assists with 332, he's ten shy of head coach Marty Wilson's career mark of 342.
But the team's assist leader isn't even a starter. Junior Amadi Udenyi (3.9 ppg, 4.3 apg) has come back from a ruptured Achilles and acts as a spark plug off the bench on both ends of the court.
Overall Pepperdine is a slow, methodical team on offense and strong, prideful defense. And while the Waves aren't quite as tough to beat as they were last season, despite returning all five starters and nearly everybody else, when they ranked third in the nation in three point percentage defense. This unit manages to put it all together each time they face the Cougars.
Scouting the Cougars
BYU was stifled last week in Malibu where the Waves' defensive prowess and methodical offense held the high octane Cougars to a season-low 66 possessions. At home this season the Cougars average 77 possessions per game.
At that tempo there are plenty of chances to fill the stat-sheet. Nobody in the country does that better than senior point guard Kyle Collinsworth (14.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 7.4 apg). Collinsworth holds the NCAA career record with 10 triple-doubles, all of which have come over the past two seasons.
With Collinsworth making a living getting into the paint and attacking the rim, defenses collapse and he can dish it out to his array of shooters on the perimeter.
Senior Chase Fischer (18.2 ppg) has knocked down 70 three pointers this year. Nick Emery (14.9 ppg) holds the BYU freshman record with 53 so far this season. Off the bench, Zac Seljaas isn't far behind having made 43 so far in his freshman season.
Defensively the Cougars, while they're on paper better than the Waves through the first half of conference play, are lacking. BYU makes a lot of threes but allows opponents to make a ton, as well. Against Division I opponents BYU is allowing teams to shoot 35.7% from deep (232nd nationally).