BYU Basketball: Portland game could be the perfect turning point

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05: Nick Emery
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05: Nick Emery /

BYU Basketball struggled through their month-long road trip, but Thursday’s matchup with Portland at home could be just what the Cougars need to turn things around.

There’s really no way to sugar-coat it: BYU Basketball has been playing some pretty sad ball lately.

They’ve lost four of their last five games, and three of those losses weren’t even close. Their defense most closely resembles swiss cheese, at least on the road. And that’s where they’ve been for the last month.

We’ve already discussed how the schedule compounded all of the problems this team has, and that they’ve been losing confidence in themselves at the first sign of trouble.

As a result, the Cougars sit at 8-7, with a 1-1 WCC mark. It would take something akin to a miracle for BYU to work their way back into the NCAA Tournament’s at-large discussion.

Well, if they’re going to pull off that miracle it will have to start with Thursday’s home matchup with Portland, and it’s the perfect game to do just that.

Right now you can point to a myriad of struggles and distractions that the Cougars are going through:

  • Woeful three-point shooting (31.5% for the season).
  • Even more woeful defense (92 papg in their last five games).
  • The inability to shorten an opponent’s scoring run and counter with their own.
  • Jashire Hardnett leaving the team and then returning.

The matchup with the Pilots could be the perfect remedy for every one of those problems.

They struggle with three-point defense, giving up 35.9% from distance.

They’re only averaging 71.1 points per game, and BYU is much better at home defensively, giving up just 68.4 points and allowing only one team (Utah State) to reach 80.

They’ve been much better at minimizing scoring runs and countering them at home, with the exception of the Houston game.

And a good outing from Hardnett on Thursday could go a long way in settling down the turmoil and distractions that this week’s saga has produced.

Now, a win against Portland won’t mean a whole lot by itself. The Pilots are the worst team in the WCC, and it’s a home game, so even the struggling version of BYU Basketball should be able to win this one.

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The Cougars could easily win this one and then turn around and struggle as soon as they head back out on the road again next week or take on a quality opponent like San Francisco next Saturday.

Or they could use this game as a refresher, resetting their play and rebuilding their confidence. BYU can still make some noise in the conference if they do.

But if they don’t it’ll be a long final two months of the season.