Though its last two games outside of Provo have not gone well, BYU has reason to believe a visit to Moby Arena won’t derail its hopes for a Mountain West title.
The 16th-ranked Cougars look to win their eighth straight over Colorado State on Wednesday as they try to keep pace in the conference race.
The Cougars (23-3, 8-2), who have won the last three regular-season Mountain West titles, trail conference-leading New Mexico by a half-game but have played one fewer league game than the Lobos. While New Mexico hosts Wyoming on Wednesday, BYU looks to at least to keep pace when it visits Colorado State, which the Cougars beat 91-47 at home Jan. 16.
BYU shot 58.6 percent in that victory but has been held to 38.1 percent in each of its last two road games and lost both—at New Mexico on Jan. 27 and UNLV on Feb. 6. However, the Cougars have easily won their last two road games against Colorado State and seven straight meetings overall by an average of 24.7 points while shooting 56.0 percent.
BYU is coming off a 91-48 win over Air Force on Saturday, shooting 12 of 20 from 3-point range. Jonathan Tavernari was 5 of 7 from beyond the arc to finish with a season-high 19 points off the bench.
Tavernari, shooting 26 of 52 from 3-point range in 12 games in 2010, scored 16 in the loss to UNLV the previous week. He began the season as a starter, but has come off the bench the last 11 games.
“He’s been terrific the last month, especially in practices where he’s shot with a lot of confidence,” coach Dave Rose said. “We get him playing with that look in his eye … and that’s big for our team.”
BYU star Jimmer Fredette averages a conference-leading 20.9 points and is scoring 25.1 per game on the road, but he shot a combined 12 of 36 from the field in the losses at New Mexico and UNLV. He was quiet against Air Force on Saturday, finishing with nine points after attempting six shots in 27 minutes. Fredette scored 21 points in 24 minutes against Colorado State last month.
The Rams (15-9, 6-4) have won three straight, holding opponents to an average of 53.7 points and 37.0 percent shooting. That stretch follows a 1-4 slump during which they gave up 74.8 points per game and 46.8 percent shooting.
Colorado State is playing for the first time since a 51-47 victory over Air Force last Tuesday, limiting the Falcons to 18.2 percent from the field in the second half.
“They really came back and won with defense,” coach Tim Miles told the Rams’ official Web site. “Even though we weren’t doing a lot on offense, we did enough.”
The only Rams to score in double figures were Andy Ogide with 12 points and Dorian Green with 10.
Colorado State has lost eight in a row to Top 25 foes but hasn’t hosted one since a loss to Air Force on Jan. 3, 2007.