Dayton, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - First-round action of the 2015 NCAA Tournament takes place on Tuesday night, as the BYU Cougars and Ole Miss Rebels collide at University of Dayton Arena.
The winner of this game will move into the West Bracket and take on sixth- seeded Xavier in the second round.
Dave Rose's Cougars went an impressive 25-9 this season, but played second- fiddle to powerhouse Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference, finishing in second place in the league standings (13-5). That carried into the WCC Tournament as well, with BYU falling in the title game to Gonzaga (91-75). Still, BYU is participating in its 29th NCAA Tournament all-time, with a 15-31 record in the event. The team has been a part of this event in 11 of the last 15 years and is 10-18 in first-round matchups all-time.
The Rebels are making their eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament with an all-time record of 4-7. Andy Kennedy's squad posted a 20-12 overall mark this season with an 11-7 finish in the SEC. The team's run in the SEC Tournament was short-lived however, falling to South Carolina in the second round, 60-58. Still, it is the seventh time in nine seasons under Kennedy that Ole Miss has reached the 20-win plateau.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.
There simply aren't many teams that can match BYU's offensive firepower. The Cougars rank second nationally in scoring this season at 83.6 ppg, as they shoot .467 from the field overall, including .388 from behind the arc. The 3- pointer is a big weapon for BYU, which averages 8.4 makes from long distance per game.
It helps to have a backcourt duo of Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth to lean on. Haws, an All-WCC First-Teamer, is third in the nation in scoring at a whopping 21.9 ppg. Collinsworth is perhaps more valuable though, and is certainly more versatile. The 6-foot-6 junior is also an All-WCC First-Team member and set an NCAA record for triple-doubles in a season with six, tying the career mark as well. Collinsworth enters the tournament averaging 14.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Anson Winder (13.1 ppg) and Chase Fischer (12.9 ppg) provided other offensive outlets as well this season. However, a swollen knee kept Winder out of the WCC championship game and has him questionable for this contest.
Ole Miss isn't quite the offensive juggernaut that BYU is. The team does average a decent 72.6 ppg this year, but it has come on a rather pedestrian .426 shooting.
Still, star power exists on the roster in the form of junior guard Stefan Moody. The 5-10 playmaker was an All-SEC First-Team selection, leading the team in scoring at 16.2 ppg, while pacing the conference in both free-throw percentage (.901) and steals (2.0 per game). His battery mate in the backcourt is senior guard Jarvis Summers, who has proved himself to be a capable scorer (12.4 ppg) and deft distributor, leading the conference in assists (5.3 apg). Senior LaDarius White (11.2 ppg) is a valuable contributor for Ole Miss off the bench.