BYU Cougars at Saint Mary’s Gaels – NCAAM Jan 14

BYU (9-3, 0-1) at Saint Mary’s (9-3, 0-1)

  • Time: 8PM PST | 10PM CST | 11PM EST
  • Location: UCU Pavilion, Moraga, CA
  • TV: ESPN2

Slight Edge To Gaels in Series

Saint Mary’s posts a 16-15 lead over BYU in the series as the two teams have split the last six contests after the Gaels had run off five in a row. SMC toppled BYU, 51-50, last season in the WCC Tournament as the Gaels took two of three in 2019-20. The Gaels have lost two of their last three while the Cougars had a four-game winning streak halted in an 86-69 loss at Gonzaga last week.

Vs. The Spread

BYU:

  • The total has gone OVER in 5 of the Cougars’ last 6 games
  • The Cougars are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games vs. the Gaels
  • The UNDER has been the play in 6 of BYU’s last 7 road contests

Saint Mary’s:

  • The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the last 10 SMC-BYU matchups
  • The OVER has been the pick in 6 of the Gaels’ last 7 WCC outings
  • The Gaels are 6-0 SU in their last six home games vs. BYU

Last Time Out

The Cougars became the latest victim of the fortress known as the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs as they lost 86-69 in Spokane last Thursday. It was BYU’s first game since Dec. 23 after postponement due to Covid-19. Matt Haarms and Caleb Lohner had 13 each for the Cougars, who were down 23-2 just seven minutes into the game.

Santa Clara’s Keshawn Justice made a three-pointer with 18 seconds remaining as the Broncos ended the Gaels’ 10-game home winning streak with a 66-64 decision. Logan Johnson led the Gaels with 26 points as they shot only 39 percent from the floor.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
BYU +1½ (-109) +108 O 133½ (-102)
Saint Mary’s -1½ (-111) -128 U 133½ (-118)

Cougars Clipboard

BYU Cougars LogoThe Cougars’ offense runs through a dynamic shooter in Alex Barcello (16.3 ppg, 4.3 apg), who plays 80.8 percent of the Cougars’ minutes in being the team’s catalyst. Barcello nets 60 percent of his triples, but hasn’t gotten as many looks in the last few games. He is flanked by Purdue transfer Matt Haarms (11.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Brandon Averette (10.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg).

Saint Mary’s isn’t a team that feeds off turnovers as they force only 11.4 per game; however, to the Gaels’ credit, SMC only averages 11.3 themselves. The Gael limit teams to 5.5 triples per contest as they are strong in the half court in identifying shooters and playing excellent position defense. Teams shoot only 40.9 percent and find 60.1 points per game vs. Randy’s Bennett’s squad.

Please Note:

Tempo control could be the determinant of this game as BYU will get out and run behind Borcello and spot up it’s three-point shooters in transition. However, the Gaels rely on half-court defense and execution in the half-court on offense where they are 353rd in the nation at adjusted tempo and average 20.2 seconds per possession.

Gaels’ Clipboard

Saint Mary’s Gaels LogoSaint Mary’s had to reinvent after losing eight of the 15 players on the roster from last year’s squad, including Jordan Ford who was such a pillar of the program for four years. Bennett is one of the best coaches in the business and he has done a good job in getting his team to mesh with covid being such a problem.

Leading scorer Tommy Kuhse (14.8 ppg, 5.6 apg) is where you start as he is dynamic off the dribble-drive in getting into the paint and setting up his own shots while also being a factor on defense as he leads SMC with 21 steals. Shooting guard Logan Johnson (11.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg) functions much in the same way as he leads the Gaels in trips to the free throw line with 39. Matthias Taas (10.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg) will be a good foil for Haarms down low as he has blocked 21 shots in addition to shooting 55.9 percent and giving the Gaels offensive options in the paint.

The Cougars can be turnover prone 14.5 per game as the Gaels could be able to find some leak outs off the turnover for points. Saint Mary’s has averaged 13.5 points off turnovers in the past four games.

Winner: Saint Mary’s (-1½) 65, BYU 59
Over-Under: Take UNDER U 133½

The Bets
Saint Mary’s -1½
-111
UNDER U 133½
-118
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.