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Provo • In their first few years in the West Coast Conference, BYU basketball players and coaches viewed the Pepperdine Waves as that pesky little team from beautiful Malibu, Calif., that played in a smallish gymnasium and had some outstanding players, but not much depth.
Pepperdine has been more than just a thorn in BYU's side the past few years, having defeated the Cougars in three straight games, and four of the last five. Suddenly, the Waves have their number. Pepperdine supporters are even calling BYU a rival, of all things.
Seven days ago in Malibu, Pepperdine continued its recent dominance over BYU with a hard-fought 71-65 win. The rematch is Saturday night (8 p.m., ESPN2) at the Marriott Center, as the league's third- and fourth-place teams face off in Provo, where the Waves won 67-61 last January.
The Cougars have not lost at home since, winning 16 straight games at the Marriott Center.
"We love this place, and we love our fan base," BYU center Corbin Kaufusi said Thursday night after the Cougars routed Loyola Marymount 87-62 in front of 12,816. "It was nice to come back and play in front of them."
While BYU was strolling past the Lions, Pepperdine was knocking off San Diego 75-65 at Jenny Craig Pavilion to record its fourth straight WCC win, its longest conference winning streak in 12 years. Burly post player Stacy Davis, who had just 10 against BYU last week in a subpar performance, for him, had a season-high 25 points against the Toreros.
"I think [playing Pepperdine] is the same challenge that basically it was there, especially since they have been able to get us the past couple of games that we've played them, last year and the year before that," Kaufusi said. "It is going to be a big challenge, but we are excited to get them back here."
The Cougars lost at Firestone Fieldhouse last Saturday partly because they shot 35 percent from the field and 27 percent (6 of 22) from 3-point range. Pepperdine is 12th nationally in 3-point percentage defense (29.6) and has some excellent perimeter defenders in Jeremy Major, Amadi Udenyi and Lamond Murray Jr.
"It will be a tough matchup," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "They control tempo pretty well, guard the 3-point line really well. They should have our guys' attention. There's not a lot of preparation time, but I hope we get our game plan in and then really come Saturday ready to execute it."
The Cougars will likely be without one of their best 3-pointer shooters, freshman wing Zac Seljaas. The Bountiful High product left the LMU game early in the second half with a shoulder injury. A scan on Friday morning revealed a right shoulder contusion, but no joint damage. Seljaas is doubtful for Saturday, however.
Murray hurt BYU with 20 points a week ago, but Rose is just as concerned defending Major, who didn't even score.
"This Jeremy Major, he is a handful," Rose said. "He is a guy who can really distribute the ball and make all those other four guys a lot better. He is a guy who can take over a game scoring the ball. He is a physical, long defender who can cause problems. So, we know we got our hands full. … It should be a good game. Looking forward to it."
Pepperdine at BYU
P At the Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff • Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • ESPN2
Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and Sirius XM 143
Records • BYU 15-7, 6-3 WCC; Pepperdine 14-7, 7-3 WCC
Series history • BYU leads 9-8
Last meeting • Pepperdine 71, BYU 65 (Jan. 23, 2016)
About the Cougars • They are 9-0 at the Marriott Center this season after throttling Loyola Marymount 87-62 on Thursday night. … Kyle Davis scored 19 points, reaching double figures for the 20th time, and Chase Fischer added 17.
About the Waves • Stacy Davis scored a season-high 25 points and they defeated San Diego 75-65 in San Diego on Thursday night. … Lamond Murray Jr., who had 20 points in the win over BYU last week, added 17 and Jett Raines had 12.