Editor’s Note: We’re excited to have a guest post from Paul McHardy (@byubuckeyes), and we look forward to hearing a lot more from him on USN in the future.
Though born in Utah, Paul McHardy was raised in Ohio as a Buckeye. Since his return to the Beehive State in 2005, Paul has covered Utah sports in a number of capacities. He spent several years at KSL NewsRadio, home of BYU football and basketball, and regularly covered the University of Utah, Utah State and the Utah Jazz. He also reported on a wide variety of BYU sports (volleyball, soccer, etc.) for BYUtv. Paul lives, breathes and eats sports—just ask his wife and two dogs, all of whom have grown accustom to his regular yelling at his television during games.
Don’t call her Cinderella anymore. This is the real deal.
Thursday night in Provo, Utah, features the No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs (potentially No. 1 come Monday morning) strutting onto the floor of the Marriott Center to take on the BYU Cougars.
Gonzaga not only has the number by their name, but they also come in riding a 10 game win streak—a streak that just so happened to begin with a win over BYU at The Kennel. (They’re also bringing ESPN2 to town).
Never before has a No. 2 come to Provo. The University of Utah’s ‘97-98 team that went to the national championship was ranked #3 when they opened a can on the Cougars, but that was a long time ago. In the Dave Rose era, BYU has hosted three Top 6 teams, and while only winning one of those games (San Diego State’s No. 4 ranked 2011 squad), all of those games were close.
But that was then. This is now. Let’s face reality.
The ‘Zags should dominate, as they have consistently done over BYU since the Cougars joined the WCC. In the five times these two teams have met up since 2011, the record might look close, but reality is far from it.
The 20-point pounding BYU took up in Washington last month was just the latest in an increasing margin-of-defeat trend. And despite Mark Few’s comments with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on the difficult atmosphere in the Marriot Center (thanks to the loyal, rowdy and passionate ROC), this is a confident squad with No. 1 in the nation and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in sight.
Keys to the game:
Gonzaga knows BYU’s kryptonite—shut down Tyler Haws. And boy did they do it well. Last month in Washington, Haws had one point.
You didn’t read that wrong. ONE point.
Haws has to show up. It’s just that simple. And his teammates have to find him. Specifically, Matt Carlino—he needs to stop driving the lane like a wild bronco, and facilitate the passing game. Find Haws. And for that matter, find Davies. BYU struggles when these two aren’t the focus.
For Gonzaga, just don’t choke. Every script says you win and capture that No. 1 rank.