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BYU: The week of the trifecta

By Randolph Fairbairn   |  Posted Jan 19th, 2012 @ 9:12am



PROVO -- The BYU Cougars started this week with a win in the first of three games that will play a big part in BYU's quest for a West Coast Conference regular season championship. The Cougars dismantled the San Diego Toreros on the road, winning 82-63.

A balanced attack was again the key for BYU. Four players scored ten or more points and three of the four added seven rebounds to their double digit scoring totals. Brock Zylstra led the way with 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Brandon Davies had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

BYU is off until Thursday night when Loyola Marymount comes to Provo looking to avenge a 73-65 loss to BYU on Jan. 5. The Lions are a game and a half behind BYU. A win would give the Cougars the chance to create clear separation from the bottom six teams in the WCC. Then, Saturday the Cougars will travel to Malibu and play Pepperdine. Listen to both games on KSL Newsradio 1160 AM & 102.7 FM and the BYU Radio Sports Network. The Pre- game Thursday will start at 5:30 p.m. and the pre-game Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

Best Division-1 teams in the State of Utah

  1. BYU (16-4), 5-1 in the WCC. Thursday vs. Loyola Marymount, Saturday at Pepperdine.
  2. Weber State (14-3), winners of eight straight. Thursday vs. N. Arizona.
  3. Utah State (10-8), third of four road games, Thursday at Seattle, Saturday at Idaho.
  4. UVU (10-10), lost by six at Wyoming, at Seattle Friday.
  5. Southern Utah (9-9), won three, lost three, won two Thursday vs. Oakland.
  6. Utah (4-13), Up and down, up and down. Thursday vs. Arizona, but just lost leasing scorer Jiggy Watkins.

Names to watch in the West Coast Conference

Tracking the top performers of the week:

St. Mary's guard Matthew Dellavedova (4) celebrates after making a 3-point shot against Gonzaga. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • No surprise here this week. From the West Coast Conference, "After leading his team to a perfect 3-0 West Coast Conference record last week, Saint Mary's junior guard Matthew Dellavedova is the WCC Player of the Week. Dellavedova averaged 20.7 points and 6.3 assists per game, shooting 55 percent from the field and 50 percent (13-of- 26) from beyond the three-point arc. The Australia native registered 19 assists while committing just five turnovers - an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.8. Dellavedova scored a career high 27 points in a victory over San Francisco, adding 26 more in a win over No. 21/23 Gonzaga."

  • Elias Harris scored 19 points and Freshman Gary Bell added 16 to help Gonzaga beat Loyola Marymount in a tight one 62-58, Saturday. The Zags trailed 34-32 at the half on the road in Los Angeles against the Lions. It was a big game for Gonzaga to not have a "slip up" on the road against one of the bottom six in the WCC.

  • If you told me Craig Cusick would be averaging 15+ minutes a game at this point in the season for BYU I would have said have you ever heard of Matt Carlino, Anson Winder and Nick Martineau? Cusick has absolutely made the most of his time shooting 48 percent from 3-point range and dishing out 39 assists so far this year.

Games to watch in the WCC

  • Thursday's line-up in the WCC doesn't give us much outside of BYU and Loyola Marymount. If the Lions want to have any shot at a WCC regular season title Thursday is pretty much a must win.

  • Saturday's top game has No. 24 St. Mary's visiting Santa Clara. The Broncos have started 0-4 in WCC play, not meeting expectations. This is a must win for the Broncos if they want to have any hope of a regular season crown in the WCC.

San Diego State's DeShawn Stephens celebrates a run of baskets against New Mexico. (AP Photo/Craig Fritz)

National Noise

The BIG 12 has the best marquee matchups this week followed by the Mountain West;

  • Previously undefeated No. 3 Baylor (17-1) lost Monday at No. 7 Kansas (18-1) and it wasn't even close. The Jayhawks cruised 92-74. The Bears go right back at a monster scheduling week on Saturday when they host No. 5 Missouri (17-1) in Waco.

  • No. 16 SDSU (15-2) with the 69-67 last second win over No. 14 UNLV (16-3) Saturday in San Diego. A fantastic Mountain West Conference game. The Aztecs got another stiff challenge Wednesday when they traveled the Pit in Albuquerque to face New Mexico (15-3), but pulled out a hard-fought 75-70 win. After the Aztecs, the Lobos now go to Las Vegas Saturday to play No. 14 UNLV, which cruised to the 101-78 win Thursday over TCU.

  • Jeff Sagarin's Conference Power rankings show the West Coast Conference 11th. BYU's former conference, the MWC is 5th. That's the not so great news for BYU and the WCC. The good news is the top of the WCC is outperforming the top of the MWC when it comes to individual rankings by Sagarin. The top six goes like this, UNLV No. 11, ST. Mary's No. 16, Gonzaga No. 24, BYU No. 26, New Mexico No. 29, San Diego State No. 39. The middle of the Mountain West really makes the difference between the WCC and MWC. The next five teams that would be ranked in order come from the MWC. Colo. State, Wyoming, Boise State, Air Force, TCU before Loyola Marymount breaks the streak.

  • The latest Bracketology from ESPN's Joe Lunardi has three WCC teams and four Mountain West teams. Gonzaga (5), St. Mary's (5) and BYU (12). UNLV (4), SDSU (5), New Mexico (9) and Colo. State (14) from the MWC. I like what the Rams are doing and have done this year, but they are not a tournament team at this point in the season. Beat one of those three other MWC names in front of them and then we'll talk.

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