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UVU vs. BYU and 3 Keys for the Wolverines to Pull Off the Upset

UVU Athletics

Once again, it is November and it’s that time again for Utah Valley to take on BYU in men’s hoops. It was an all-forgettable game in 2017 as the Cougars dominated the Wolverines, 85-58 in front of 7,574 in the UCCU Center.

Yoeli Childs had a double-double for the Cougars with 24 points and 11 rebounds. TJ Haws was also in double figures with 11 points. Three Wolverines were in double figures led by Brandon Randolph with 16 points. For the Wolverines, they can point to the three-pointer as a big reason they lost. UVU was just 1-8 from downtown on the evening while BYU was 12-26 from distance.

BYU basically gave UVU a dose of its own medicine considering the Wolverines hit 18 3-pointers in a 114-101 win over BYU in Provo in 2016. 

Here we are again for the fourth installment of this four-game series. And here are some keys if the Wolverines are to knock off the Cougars.

Offensive Efficiency

Like it was mentioned above, UVU was just 1-8 from 3-point land in its 2017 loss to BYU. Two years ago, UVU was 18-37 from beyond the arc and the Wolverines shot a blistering 52.9 percent from the field. 

In order to beat BYU on Friday night, the Wolverines are going to have to shoot it well. Taking care of the basketball, being aggressive and getting to the free throw line are vital in an upset bid. Yes, BYU is a 83.2 percent favorite to win on Friday night according to the matchup predictor on ESPN.com.

In its season opening win over Westminster, UVU shot 52.3 percent from the field and 11-22 from beyond the arc. The Wolverines also turned the ball over just eight times while dishing out 25 assists. They will need that kind of efficiency if they intend on winning in Provo for the second straight time.

REBOUND!!!!!!

The team that wins the rebounding battle in this rivalry is usually the team that wins the game. In the 2015 contest, BYU outrebounded the Wolverines 68-38. In 2016, UVU won the battle 43-38 and in 2017 the Cougars were the dominant team in the paint 33-24.

Yoeli Childs is a rebounding beast for the Cougars and had 12 boards against 7th-ranked Nevada on Tuesday. Isaiah White pulled down eight boards for UVU on Tuesday night. However, it is going to take a team effort on the boards for UVU on Friday night in Provo. Connor MacDougall and Baylee Steele are going to have to dominate the glass for the underdog Wolverines. Pay attention to this ongoing stat all night as it might give a good idea who is going to win the UCCU Crosstown Clash.

UVU Newcomers vs. BYU Veterans

UVU has five newcomers who will see a lot of time on Friday. We might be able to count Hayden Schenck on that list as he is returning after suffering a torn patellar tendon in 2017. 

Can Baylee Steele, Connor MacDougall, Tj Washington, Isaiah White and Wyatt Lowell handle the veteran BYU lineup? Four starters return for BYU led by Yoeli Childs. And BYU also has Zac Seljaas, Dalton Nixon and McKay Cannon coming off the bench who saw time in the 2017 matchup. Forward Gavin Baxter is the only Cougar new to the roster.

UVU head coach Mark Pope said that his team tends to take possessions off. It was something he saw against Westminster and it concerned him greatly knowing BYU was coming up. If the UVU newcomers stay focused, play aggressively and stay within themselves on EVERY possession, UVU fans have hope. 

Two matchups to watch on Friday night will be Ben Nakwaasah and Tj Washington against Jahshire Hardnett and TJ Haws. Guard play is so essential in a rivalry game so this will be a fun one to watch. The other match happens in the paint. How will Connor MacDougall and Baylee Steele fair against All-WCC First Teamer Yoeli Childs as well as Luke Worthing, Gavin Baxter and Dalton Nixon?

It will be fun. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT and can be heard on ESPN 960 AM or seen on BYUTV. 

Update

It appears that, due to an NCAA ruling on an investigation into the BYU basketball program and Nick Emery, that BYU will have to vacate its win over the Wolverines in 2017. You can read why at this link

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