- The Pepperdine Waves (6-7, 2-2 WCC) host the BYU Cougars (13-3, 4-1 WCC) Wednesday, Jan. 27
- The teams played each other Saturday, with BYU winning 65-54 in Provo
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Pepperdine Waves (6-7, 2-2 WCC) will try to snap a six-game losing streak to the BYU Cougars (13-3, 4-1 WCC) when they host BYU in a game that was originally slated to be played New Year’s Eve, before coronavirus issues within Pepperdine’s program forced postponement.
Tip is set for 3pm ET inside Firestone Fieldhouse.
Wednesday’s game marks the first time Pepperdine has played the same opponent in back-to-back regular-season games since the 2001-02 season against Loyola Marymount. BYU head coach Mark Pope, a seven-year NBA veteran, thinks the consecutive nature of the game brings an NBA playoff flavor to it.
BYU vs Pepperdine Odds
|BYU||-6.5 (-102)||-270||Ov 146.5 (-112)|
|Pepperdine||+6.5 (-120)||+220||Un 146.5 (-108)|
Odds taken Jan. 26 at FanDuel
BYU senior guard Brandon Averette put up 15 points and six rebounds Saturday in the 11-point victory over the Waves. Pepperdine cut BYU’s lead to three at 57-54 late in the second half, but the Cougars closed the game on an 8-0 run. Pope’s crew held the Waves to 29% shooting on the night, the lowest mark of the season for a BYU opponent.
Now, the matchup shifts from the Wasatch Front to the Pacific shores in Malibu, where the Waves open a four-game homestand.
BYU is rated second in conference scoring behind only Gonzaga — putting up 77 points per game — which helps explain its road favorite status.
With no fans in attendance and Pepperdine’s mediocre status, Pope’s declaration that Wednesday’s tilt will have a playoff-like feel might be a bit of a stretch. But from a familiarity standpoint at least, the rematch is unique.
“You play back-to-back games in five-game and seven-game series,” Pope recalled of his NBA playoff days. “After a game, you feel like you know where the series is headed. You could be up 3-1 and then you lose Game 5 and now it’s 3-2 and all the pressure’s totally changed.”
Pope knows Pepperdine will make adjustments, especially coming off a dismal shooting performance. Sophomore guard Travis Knell, who had 12 points Saturday, is expecting the Waves to rebound, too.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge. I feel like they’re going to be hungry for a win and we’re going to their place,,” Knell said. “But we’re ready.”
Pepperdine’s second-leading scorer, Colbey Ross, scored 39% of the Waves’ total output Saturday, putting up a game-high 21 points. But the team’s leading scorer Kessler Edwards was held in check. Edwards, who averaged 24.0 points and 10.5 rebounds last week in two games — including a career-high 37 against Pacific — was still named WCC Player of the Week despite his 4-for-13 night from the field in Provo.
ICYMI | @KesslerEdwards doing Kess stuff#WCChoops | @WCChoops pic.twitter.com/yopJw9VsmH
— Pepperdine Men’s Basketball (@PeppBasketball) January 26, 2021
If head coach Lorenzo Romar can get Edwards going Wednesday, expect a better outing from the Rancho Cucamonga native. The junior forward is averaging 18.3 points per game, good for fourth-best in the WCC.
Plus, Ross may not put up 21 again — but the senior from Denver is as reliable as it gets. He ranks fifth in the country (and first in the WCC) in assists per game (7.5) and is seventh in the conference in scoring (16.3).
With their two stars focused on avenging Saturday’s loss, expect big games from Pepperdine’s dynamic duo.
Jekyll and Hyde
Which Pepperdine team shows up Wednesday will tell a lot. Romar’s team suffered narrow losses to UCLA and San Diego State and beat Cal in the season’s first two weeks, but has split its four conference games — including a 25-point blowout to the Zags in Spokane.
Pope, who was the 1992 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year at Washington before transferring to Lexington and eventually becoming part of the 1996 Kentucky national championship team, knows the Waves are talented.
“This team is so good. They’re just so dangerous,,” Pope said. “Any time you have a team with a veteran guy like Colbey Ross, who’s been one of the top point guards in this league the last three or four years, it’s problematic because he can beat you in so many ways.”
The path to victory for the Waves seems simple enough: score. Pepperdine is 0-5 when it puts up 70 points or less this season, while BYU is a perfect 12-0 when holding opponents to 71 or less. I like Kessler and Ross to rebound — or at least keep it close — in this spot and possibly snap that near-four-year long losing streak to the Cougars.
The pick: Pepperdine +6.5 (-120)