PROVO — No team in the West Coast Conference has given BYU more trouble the past two seasons than Pepperdine.
The Waves have won four of their last five meetings with the Cougars and three in a row, including last Saturday’s 71-65 victory in Malibu.
BYU, which sits in fourth place in the WCC standings, has a chance to end that losing streak against third-place Pepperdine Saturday (8 p.m., MST, ESPN2) at the Marriott Center.
The Cougars are riding a 15-game homecourt winning streak — and, yes, the Waves were the last team to beat BYU at home (Jan. 8, 2015).
Pepperdine has also won four consecutive WCC games, marking its longest league win streak in 12 years. The Waves have won seven of their last eight games.
“It will be tough,” BYU coach Dave Rose said of Saturday’s contest. “They control tempo pretty well, guard the 3-point line pretty well. We should have our guys’ attention. There’s not a lot of preparation time but I hope we can get our game plan in and come Saturday ready to execute it … It should be a good game. Looking forward to it.”
Last weekend at Firestone Fieldhouse, Lamond Murray Jr. scored a game-high 20 points and Jett Raines added 18 against BYU. Stacy Davis had a relatively quiet game with 10 points while Kameron Edwards chipped in 13 points.
Guard Jeremy Major was held scoreless, but Rose knows that Major can impact a game.
“Jeremy Major is a handful. He’s a guy who can really distribute the ball and make those other four guys a lot better,” Rose said. “He’s a guy who can take over the game, scoring the ball. He’s had 25-, 26-point nights. He’s a physical, long defender who can cause problems. We know we’ve got our hands full.”
In Pepperdine’s 75-65 win at San Diego last Thursday, Davis scored a season-high 25 points.
The Cougars could be without freshman guard Zac Seljaas, who injured his shoulder in Thursday’s 87-62 win over Loyola Marymount.
In that game, BYU showed it has some players who can step up off the bench and contribute, including Corbin Kaufusi (12 points), Jordan Chatman (8 points) and Jakob Hartsock (3 points). Kaufusi and Chatman combined to go 9 of 10 from the field against LMU. Kaufusi was one of five Cougars to score in double figures.
Kaufusi knows that Pepperdine poses a tough test.
“It’s the same challenge that it was when we were there, especially since they’ve been able to get us the past few games that we’ve played them,” he said. “It’s going to be a big challenge but we’re excited to get them back here.”
At halftime of Saturday’s game, new BYU football coach Kalani Sitake is expected to introduce his staff and address Cougar fans for the first time. A number of top-rated football recruits will also be in attendance.