BYU up for NCAA do-over


PHILADELPHIA -- Same seed. Same opponent. This NCAA Tournament matchup has a familiar feel.

Brigham Young and Texas A&M meet again at 9:30 a.m. today in the first round of the West Regional. It's a rematch from last year when the Aggies won 67-62.

The eighth-seeded Cougars (25-7) -- they've been in this spot three straight seasons -- and ninth-seeded Aggies (23-9) were surprised they drew each other when the brackets were announced. But it made their preparation a little easier. All they had to do was pop in the tape from their previous meeting to get a refresher.

"We were all like, 'Again!' " Aggies guard Derrick Roland said Wednesday. "It's no surprises. We know what to expect. They're a good team. We'll be ready."

Texas A&M's five starters all played double-digit minutes against the Cougars last year while four of BYU's starters saw significant action. Both coaching staffs probably spent more time breaking down film from that game than any this season. If they expose just one tendency or weakness, that can give them an edge.

"One of the things that we've done as a staff is just try to find the things that were good, that we did really well in that game, that we can kind of emphasize," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We have a pretty good idea of how physical they are and how they like to play."

The Cougars know one player they have to defend a little better this time is Josh Carter. A senior forward who averages 14.1 points per game, Carter scored 26 against BYU last year.

"I figure they'll stay closer with me," Carter said. "Last year they were leaving me a little bit more. I don't expect them to do that."

Carter leads a balanced offense that includes Donald Sloan (11.7 scoring average), Bryan Davis (10.4) and Chinemelu Elonu (10.1). Texas A&M has excellent shooters -- Carter, Sloan and B.J. Holmes are long-range threats -- and is strong inside. The Aggies outrebounded their opponent in 11 of their last 12 games, holding an average margin of 8.3.

"One of the keys is definitely going to be Josh Carter," Cougars guard Lee Cummard said. "We're going to have to do a good job containing him as a team. Taking care of the basketball and rebounding is another key. They're physical. Sometimes they send three, four guys to the offensive glass. If we can control that, it will really help a lot."

BYU is an outstanding perimeter-shooting team led by a trio of scorers. Cummard (16.8), Jimmer Fredette (16.2) and Jonathan Tavernari (15.9) combined to shoot 38.2 percent (168-for-440) from 3-point range. Jackson Emery also can shoot well, hitting 37.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Cummard, Fredette and Tavernari shot 41.2 percent (7-for-17) from 3-point range in their loss to Texas A&M.

"To me, it's all about transition defense and finding shooters in transition," Aggies coach Mark Turgeon said. "If you can slow that down a little bit, you have a chance. If you don't do that, you have no chance against them. It's a tough matchup."

BYU has four consecutive 20-win seasons under Rose after going 9-21 in 2004-05. The Cougars are 11-26 in the NCAA Tournament with six straight losses in the opening round. They haven't won a tournament game since 1993, but they've come close lately. BYU has lost four in a row by five points or less.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.