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ISU MBB: Bengals face final nonconference test at BYU

December 20, 2016 GMT

Idaho State hasn’t gotten many breaks this season.

The Bengals (2-9) have clear flaws — rebounding and turnovers have been major issues, the offense has been too reliant on 3-pointers at times and rushed possessions limit assist totals.

ISU has also been tasked with playing seven road games against three teams from the Mountain West Conference, one from the Big 12 and another from the Big Ten. All but two of Idaho State’s nonconference opponents have winning records.

The Bengals’ final game before Dec. 29′s Big Sky Conference opener at Montana is Tuesday at BYU (7-4). The Cougars have one of the best offenses in Division I and play at the fourth-fastest pace, according to kenpom.com.

BYU was picked to finish third in the West Coast Conference preseason poll and has two preseason all-conference selections in sophomore guard Nick Emery and sophomore center Eric Mika. The duo combines to score 37.4 of the team’s WCC-leading 84.6 points per game.

Mika, at 6-foot-10, is second in the conference in scoring (21.4 points per game), rebounding (8.5) and blocked shots (1.8), while leading the league with 3.2 offensive rebounds per night. He has four double-doubles this season.

Emery, at 6-foot-2, has made a 3-pointer in 20 consecutive games dating back to last season and set the BYU freshman record in 2015-16 with 97 trey balls. Emery is shooting 34.2 percent from the arc this season, ranks second in the WCC with two steals per game and is third at 86.2 percent from the free-throw line.

Under 12th-year head coach Dave Rose, BYU is 165-18 at the Marriott Center. The Cougars and Bengals have played two common opponents this season in Utah Valley and Utah State. UVU handed BYU its only home loss of the season, 114-101 on Nov. 26. BYU downed Utah State 77-63 four days later. ISU lost to both squads.

BYU ranks 25th in Division I with a plus-7.8 rebounding margin and is 23rd with 17.6 assists per game. The Cougars don’t shoot well from the arc at a West Coast Conference-worst 30.9 percent, but they defend the arc well, holding opponents to 30.7 percent. Idaho State is second in the Big Sky at 39.2 percent from deep and hits 8.5 3s per game.