1. Defend the perimeter.
BYU enters this game as arguably the most dangerous 3-point shooting team in the country. Head coach Mark Pope has quickly implemented his perimeter-centric offense since arriving in Provo this offseason and it has paid off in a big way to this point the season. Behind the contributions of several sharpshooters, the Cougars are connecting on 40.1% of their trifectas so far this season. That level of efficiency ranks fifth nationally and it is a major reason why the team lets 3-pointers fly at such high volumes (67th in 3PAr).
To summarize how deadly BYU’s shooters can be, they are scoring 39.3% of their total points as a team on 3-point attempts. The Cougars are boasting seven different players hitting at least one trifecta per game and their ability to space the floor at every position makes them very dangerous offensively. Even though Childs (8-for-12 3P) is likely to miss this contest, Kolby Lee can knock down the occasional open 3-pointer as well (3-for-5 in the last five games) at the center spot.
Given all of these statistics, it is clear that Gonzaga will have its hands full defending the perimeter. If the Bulldogs allow the Cougars to get hot from distance, then this will be a much closer game than many experts are expecting heading in. To this point in the year, Gonzaga’s opponents have been shooting a respectable 32.4% from three. BYU, though, represents easily the best 3-point shooting team that Zaga has faced this season.
Considering this will be a battle of elite offenses, whichever team is able to shut down the other’s scoring strength will have a major advantage. For Gonzaga, that means doing its best to neutralize BYU’s perimeter shooting.