For the BYU basketball team, it’s yet another shot at a nationally ranked opponent.
The Cougars face unbeaten No. 21 UMass Saturday (11:30 a.m. MST, CBSSN) in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
BYU (7-2) has already played, and lost to, No. 17 Iowa State and No. 11 Wichita State in recent weeks.
“We’ve had a bunch of big games already,” said Cougar guard Tyler Haws.
The Cougars also travel to No. 13 Oregon later this month.
“This group, led by Kyle (Collinsworth), Tyler and Matt (Carlino), that’s why they came to BYU,” said coach Dave Rose. “They want to play in games like this. Hopefully, we’re ready to go.”
The Cougars are coming off a 97-67 thumping of North Texas last Wednesday at the Marriott Center.
Meanwhile, the Minutemen (7-0) have defeated the likes of Louisiana State, Nebraska, Clemson and then-No. 19 New Mexico this season.
“We’ve watched them play a few times and they’ve beaten some good teams so far,” Haws said. “We’re going to have to play well to beat them. Everyone’s going to have to come ready to play.”
UMass is led by 6-foot-10 center Cady Lalanne, who averages 16.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. His matchup with Cougar big man Eric Mika (13.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) should be an intriguing one.
Four other Minutemen starters average double figures — guard Chaz Williams (15.4 ppg), forward Sampson Carter (12.9 ppg), forward Raphiael Putney (12.3 ppg) and guard Derrick Gordon (11 ppg).
This game will mark BYU’s fourth neutral-site contest in its last five games. It previously played games at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., and EnergySolutions Arena.
This one is far away.
“I like everything except the miles,” Rose said of Saturday’s game in Springfield. “I wish we were playing in Dallas or something. It’s a long trip out there. But our guys are excited to play. I think it will be a great game on a national stage.”
UMass is scheduled to visit the Marriott Center next year in a return game.
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