OKLAHOMA CITY — Most analysts believe the BYU Cougars match up pretty well with first-round opponent Florida — with the exception of one position.
Basically, the Cougars are a three-guard and two-post players lineup. The Gators, however, have 6-foot-8 junior Alex Tyus playing their three spot. Tyus, averaging 12 points and seven boards per game, is going to be a tough defend for the three Cougars who should share the assignment of guarding him.
"I've guarded bigger guys this year and they've tried to push me off a little bit, but I feel like I've held my own," said 6-foot-5 freshman Tyler Haws, the first Cougar to likely get the call to defend Tyus.
Should the Gators' so-called small forward get the Cougars in foul trouble, or become difficult for Haws to defend, 6-foot-5 sophomore Charles Abouo will be next in BYU's rotation in guarding Tyus. Abouo is BYU's best defender against mobile and stronger big guards and small forwards.
"He's a tough guard. He's strong, he's athletic and he can shoot the 3-ball really well, and all that makes him a tough cover," Abouo said. "But anytime you can come in and provide some energy and make some plays on the defensive end, I'll take that call any day. So if I need to fulfill that role (Thursday) I'll be ready to do what I need to do."
It wouldn't be surprising to see coach Dave Rose go with a lineup at times similar in size to Florida's, and put senior Jonathan Tavernari, who mostly plays the four spot, into the game at the three.
"I hope so," Tavernari said. "That's really my more natural position. If coach feels that that's where I can help this team, I'm more than ready to do it."
The Cougars believe that their ability to score in multiple ways from the three spot should actually be a larger challenge for Florida.
"When I've gone up against some bigger guys I've been able to take them to the basket and do some stuff that way," Haws said.
Playing aggressive and attacking the basket is BYU's game plan, and if executed properly, the Gators should be the ones with their hands full.
"We like to play on attack and we like to be aggressive," Abouo said. "When you're imposing yourself on your opponent and they're trying to adjust to you, that usually gives you the advantage. It really puts you in control of the game."
Overall, BYU's depth should help the Cougars offset any mismatches the Gators might present. The Gators, however, don't seem too concerned by BYU's advantage in that area.
"You can only put five guys on the court at a time, so that's the way we look at it," Florida forward Dan Werner said. "But if we get in foul trouble, that could cause some problems for us."
Florida feels like it can cause plenty of problems for BYU as well.
"We're a really unselfish team. If someone is hot we're going to feed him the ball, and if that guy sees someone with a better look then he's going to give it up. That's how we play. On each possession we're going to get the best shot possible for our team," Werner said.