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BYU: Zags send message to Cougs

By Karissa Urry, Contributor   |  Posted Feb 24th, 2012 @ 5:33pm



SPOKANE, Wash. — “You’re not Jimmer” – words directed to Brigham Young University basketball point guard Matt Carlino Thursday night in The Kennel.

“This ain’t Provo” — also words that resonated through McCarthey Athletic Center on the Gonzaga University campus in Spokane, Wash., Thursday night.

Both statements screamed from the Gonzaga student section can be verified by checking BYU’s roster and a Google map.

Gonzaga's Elias Harris puts up the three pointer against BYU. Gonzaga beat BYU 74-63. (AP Photo/Jed Conklin)

Obviously, however, the Zags weren’t seeking employment at National Identification Services, nor were they going for a Lewis and Clark title. As usual, the students’ cheers were rooted in a more recent history: their game matchups.

Losing to the Zags 63-74 on Thursday, BYU took its first loss in the three encounters that the team has had in the last two years.

Both chants reference the other two matchups: Jimmer Fredette was on the team that knocked Gonzaga out of conference play last March, and Provo was the last location where the teams met up and the Zags once again lost.

With acknowledging the past losses, the Zags took confidence in their most recent shutout.

Even though BYU put up almost double the shots (78 vs. 41 field goal attempts), the Cougars couldn’t seem to put them down.

“They forced us into some quick shots,” BYU center Nate Austin said. “We just got to hit shots, that’s what it comes down to.”

Interestingly, this rather built up matchup — holding even more on the line than their last — ended with both teams not coming up as high in shooting percentage as the last time.

The Cougars definitely took the greatest drop in their field goal percentage, an 18.5 drop (49.3 percent in Provo vs. 30.8 percent in Spokane). The Bulldogs only saw a 2 percent difference (41 percent in Provo vs. 49 percent in Spokane).

So with the percentage difference between the two teams only dropping .1 percent in Spokane, it seems that the Cougs’ offense/Zags defense would be the two greatest variables to assess in the course of Thursday’s game.

BYU's Brandon Davies (0) tries to save the ball as Gonzaga's Robert Sacre (00) watches. (AP Photo/Jed Conklin)

In this case, BYU's offense has never been easier to analyze. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the missing piece of the struggling offense puzzle was found on the bench. BYU’s senior captain and team leading scorer Noah Hartsock had to sit out the entire second half after limping through the first half of Thursday’s game. It was obvious that the team needed its leader, uniquely found in the paint.

BYU head coach Dave Rose expressed sympathy for the team and specifically for Hartsock after the game.

“You could tell everyone of them wanted to put themselves in a position to let their team win,” Rose said. “I feel bad for Noah. Noah wanted (with a) heart as big as this building to play and come through.”

Thursday’s game should put BYU as playing its first game in the West Coast Conference next Friday, if it can grab a win against Portland at home in the Marriott Center on Saturday — which is exactly what BYU would like to grab a hold of during yet another un-steady season ending.

“As a team we played hard,” Austin said. “Next time we’d like to get the win.”

Karissa Urry is a Brigham Young University student majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business Management. Follow her on Twitter @KarissaEUrry

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