PROVO — BYU women's basketball coach Jeff Judkins has never gone up against Auburn, although he sees similarities with the Tigers and the last team he faced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which were also Tigers — the Missouri variety.
The Cougars, a No. 7 seed, square off against No. 10 seed Auburn on Saturday, hoping to improve on what they did when given the exact same tournament seed in 2016.
“Last time we played a team from that conference it was the same deal, and we got beat by Missouri,” Judkins said. “So we need to be ready to go and I’m going to make sure I tell my team that.”
That 2016 matchup saw the Cougars fight back from a late deficit only to fall short. This time around Judkins expects a similar challenge, although he expects this team to be, perhaps, better at preparing for the challenge ahead.
"This team is pretty good at doing that, so I just have to make sure that my time is spent wisely with them,” Judkins said. “So hopefully I don’t lose all my hair thinking about it, but I’m confident that we can do what we need to do."
HIGH PRESSURE: Auburn will present a physical team that likes to employ a full-court press to get opposing teams out of sync and create turnovers. Given BYU's strength is its guard line, Judkins believes the Cougars are capable of meeting the challenge ahead.
“Hopefully I can get them in the right positions and I have three guards who can handle the ball, so I think that will help,” Judkins said, speaking of starting guards Brenna Chase, Shaylee Gonzales and Paisley Johnson. “We haven’t had a lot of that kind of pressure, but we’ll have to work on it.”
FAIR SEEDING: At times, BYU teams have felt they've received the short end of the stick when it comes to seeding in the NCAA Tournament, although Judkins felt a No. 7 seed was about what his team deserved this year.3 comments on this story
The Cougars gained that No. 7 seed after winning the West Coast Conference Tournament.
“I thought we’d go 6 through 10, is what I thought,” Judkins said. “So I think if we could play on Sunday that may have been different, but I think it’s fair.”
Judkins also feels seeding can be overrated.
“It really doesn’t make a difference,” Judkins said. “It’s what matchups you have is what matters the most.”
Should BYU get past Auburn it will advance to take on the winner of No. 2 seed Stanford vs. No. 15 seed UC Davis.