Davies, Cougars fired up for Saint Mary's

The Cougars have been on a bit of a roll lately, having won six consecutive games (longest winning streak since two seasons ago) while getting more balance and improved shooting. However, Wednesday night's home game against Saint Mary's will be a big measuring stick for the Cougars, who are eager to avenge a season-sweep by the Gaels last year.

Saint Mary's comes into Wednesday's game with a 13-4 record and a 2-1 record in league play, having lost 83-78 last week at Gonzaga after trailing by 20 points.

The defending WCC champion, Saint Mary's certainly has BYU's attention. The Gaels beat BYU first on their home court 98-82, and then later in the season beat the Cougars 80-66 in the Marriott Center. Losing twice to the Gaels by an average of 15 points doesn't sit well with players like Brandon Davies.

"We're more fired up for this game than we have been all year for any other game," Davies said.

When asked what he remembers from those two losses last year, Davies replied, "That we got beat and we didn't get it done. They came out and whooped us, they out-toughed us on both ends of the floor, and all of us are determined it doesn't happen again."

One of the biggest challenges for BYU will be containing senior point guard Matthew Dellavedova, last season's WCC Player of the Year. This season he is averaging 17.3 points and 6.4 assists per game, and Coach Rose said he thinks Dellavedova is one of the best guards in the country at running the pick and roll.

Davies plans on being active in defending against the Gaels' pick and roll.

"I'm gonna be out there a lot guarding ball screens," said Davies. "It's just a matter of me being on time and guarding them the right way. That's what they do. They're really good at it. They all build off each other and [when] they get momentum off those ball screens they're hard to get stopped, so that's a big part of our defense is getting them stopped in the pick and roll."

While Dellavedova leads Saint Mary's in scoring, the Gaels are a balanced team, with five players averaging at least nine points per game (compared to just three players for BYU). The four other top scorers are junior Stephen Holt (12.2 ppg), junior Beau Levesque (10.5), sophomore Brad Waldow (9.6) and junior Utah State transfer James Walker III (9.4).

Of Saint Mary's returning players, the three that BYU struggled to defend the most last season were Holt (averaged 15 points against the Cougars), Waldow and Dellavedova (both averaged 14 points).

The Cougars aren't the only ones fired up for Wednesday night's game, as there are students camping outside the Marriott Center in anticipation for the big conference showdown. "Fired up" might not be the most appropriate phrase, however, as the students have been braving absolutely frigid weather to do so, with the temperature often dipping into single digits, if not outright negative numbers.

Davies has a lot of appreciate for the diligence of the Cougar faithful.

"We always see them in their tents out there freezing, and we're complaining just walking to class and they're out there sleeping in it. We have nothing but love for our fans."

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