Boise State heads to Provo to face BYU.
The Broncos haven’t faced a D1 opponent in 10 days, now face a gritty BYU team.
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The 2-1 Broncos are onto Provo to face a 5-1 BYU squad.
Leon Rice’s Boise State Broncs are back to playing D1 opponents after the most recent game against NAIA’s College Of Idaho. A challenging, true road game at BYU for a Boise State team that hasn’t played often in the past 10 days after the New Mexico cancellation.
A Broncos team that has struggled shooting from three this season (21% from three) faces a Cougars team that shoots 35% from three. How can Boise fix the shooting slump? Have your shooters keep shooting; at some point, they will fall. The good thing for Boise State is that they only allow opposing teams that shoot 22.9% from-three, which ranks 20th in the country, per KenPom.
The Broncos’ most recent battle was against D2 College of Idaho, a game that resulted in a 86-49 victory for Leon Rice. Not everything was perfect for BSU in that contest, as starting point guard Marcus Shaver Jr played eight minutes due to a foot issue, and his status looks uncertain for Wednesday. If Shaver is a no-go, that means 6’7 Arizona transfer Emmanuel Akot will be the likely substitute. Akot made his debut in the College of Idaho game and was previously out due to contact tracing.
The Cougs have had an intriguing start to the season. Coach Mark Pope entered Year two in Provo, losing his top three players from 2019-20 with T.J. Haws, Jake Toolson, and Yoeli Childs. So, how does Pope replace his stars? By Giving Alex Barcello a significant role (Has been the best shooter in the country to this point, shooting 62.5% from three. Adding JUCO product Gideon George and 7’3 Purdue transfer Matt Haarms, and bringing a player he recruited to Utah Valley (Brandon Averette) to transfer to BYU once he entered the portal. BYU can really shoot the ball (35% from three), with three players shooting 35% and above from distance. Those players being Barcello, Averette, and Trevin Knell.
Keys to the game victory for Boise State
You can’t let Alex Barcello get hot. A player with that shooting prowess can single-handedly put a game out of reach. In BYU’s five wins, Barcello has posted 25, 19, 20, 20, 23 points during those games.
The shooting problems are a vital thing to fix. You won’t win many games with your team three-point-percentage being in the ’20s; in today’s basketball, it’s essential to shoot somewhere in the ’30s as a team. The team’s only shooter above 30% is Derrick Alston Jr, and he’s shooting just 30.8%.
Turn BYU over. The Cougars are averaging 14.7 turnovers per game this season, something that’s been an issue. Matt Haarms (2.8 per game) and Brandon Averette (2.8 per game) being the biggest culprits. Double Haarms on-the-block and force him to make bad decisions.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Emmanuel Akot, Guard.
With Shaver’s status in question, that makes Akot even more critical for Boise. Akot was ranked 24th in the class of 2017 when he committed to Arizona, so the talent is there. Akot is a super-long athlete but doesn’t add much in the shooting department.
MY PREDICTION: Boise State 78, BYU 73
The Broncos pull-off the upset in Provo due to Alston and Dennis turning the shooting woes around, and Boise State’s length on defense can limit BYU’s shooting out-put.