BYU played quite well without Yoeli Childs, but there’s no question the Cougars are a different – and better – team with the talented senior forward.
Childs missed the season’s first nine games due to an NCAA suspension. He was sidelined for four more games early in the West Coast Conference schedule with a finger injury. The bottom line: BYU is 14-2 with Childs, 8-5 without him, one of those losses a 92-69 setback to Gonzaga last month.
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Childs is one of most productive bigs in the nation, averaging 20.8 points and 8.6 rebounds. He hits 58% of his shots, including 51.4% on 3-pointers, but just 53% at the free-throw line. He leads the team with 16 blocks despite missing 13 games.
Filip Petrusev probably will draw the starting assignment on Childs, but the Zags likely will use a combination of Petrusev, Killian Tillie and Drew Timme. It’ll be one of the toughest assignments of the season for Petrusev, who missed most of the second half with an ankle injury in the first meeting. with an ankle injury.
“Obviously, they’re much better (with him),” Tillie said. “He’s a great player. I’m sure it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Petrusev will have a size advantage, but Childs is mobile, operates inside and outside, and he’s expanded his shooting range. No matter who guards Childs, one of the Zags’ goals will be keeping the Cougars post player busy at the defensive end. All three GU forwards are capable of applying foul pressure.
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