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James Walker III will look to help the Gaels pick up another key WCC win when BYU visits on Thursday.
James Walker III will look to help the Gaels pick up another key WCC win when BYU visits on...
MBK | BYU Vists McKeon For Key WCC Showdown
Release: Friday 02/19/2013 
by SMC Athletics

MORAGA, Calif. -- The last time Saint Mary's and BYU met for a men's basketball game, the nation watched as the Gaels celebrated perhaps one of the most exciting moments of the 2012-13 season.

On Thursday at 8 p.m. the Gaels and Cougars hit the McKeon Pavilion hardwood for round two of their season series. The game will be televised live on ESPN2, and live audio and statistics will be available on SMCGaels.com.

Saint Mary's (22-5, 11-2 West Coast Conference) enters on the heels of a 61-50 win at Loyola Marymount on Saturday. The Gaels led most of the game, and pulled away in the second half thanks, in part, to a 16-point effort from guard Stephen Holt.

Having won 10 of their last 11, the Gaels continue to perform well as the regular season winds down.

That fact is showing in the statistics. Saint Mary's ranks third in the WCC in scoring offense at 76.5 points per game, and second in scoring defense at 63.9 points per game. The Gaels are outscoring opponents by an average of 12.6 points per game this season.

Where the numbers really trend towards Saint Mary's is on the boards. The Gaels remain No. 1 in rebounding margin, outrebounding opponents by an average of 8.4 boards per game.

Individually, Holt enjoyed a productive two-game stretch last week. He scored 17 points against Gonzaga, then followed it up with 16 against Loyola Marymount. He enters the BYU game averaging 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

BYU carries a 20-8 overall record and 9-4 mark in the WCC into Thursday night's showdown. The Cougars won over the weekend, defeating Portland 86-72 at the Marriott Center then knocked off Utah State 70-68 on Tuesday.

In the win over the Pilots, BYU got big contributions from a duo that has been good all season. Tyler Haws led the way with 28 points and eight rebounds, and Brandon Davies added 23 points, five assists and four rebounds.

Haws and Davies continue to rank near the top of the WCC in scoring. Haws leads the conference at 21 points per game, while Davies ranks fifth at 18 per contest.

When Saint Mary's visited Provo on Jan. 16, the Cougars appeared to have the game in hand when Haws hit a shot in the lane with two seconds left to put BYU up by two.

That's when Matthew Dellavedova added another chapter to his already storied Saint Mary's career. He took the inbounds pass from Beau Levesque, bounded down the court and launched a shot from just inside the half court line. It found nothing but net, giving the Gaels a stunning 70-69 victory that would receive national attention.

Thursday's game is Superhero night at McKeon Pavilion, and fans are encouraged to dress up as their favorite hero. Use Twitter or Instagram to share pictures of your costume and fans with the most "likes" will get a prize at halftime.

The first 2,000 fans through the gates on Thursday will receive a Saint Mary's Spirit Stick, courtesy of Magbitang Financial. The WCC T-Shirt Drive is also still underway, and fans are encouraged to bring their lightly worn shirts to donate in the McKeon Pavilion lobby.