Baylor beat BYU 86-83 on Saturday in the game of the weekend as determined by FanMatch. I was there. Here is what I saw.
Perry Jones is good at playing basketball
The best thing about the game-watching experience was witnessing Perry Jones. Some games, he is more potential than production. In this game, he was productive as well, to the tune of a career-high 28 points. He made two three-pointers, his first long-range makes of the season, and he showed off some post moves in the second half. Jones still struggles in the rebounding department, and this was a factor in this game as well. In fact, it’s a pretty big issue for Baylor as a whole right now. Even playing a weak schedule, they haven’t rebounded well on either end of the floor.
The first 14 rebounds went to BYU
You watch enough games and you see some crazy things. When Baylor assistant A.D. for communications Heath Nielsen showed me the game stats after the second media timeout and pointed out that the Bears had zero rebounds, I chuckled. I mean, I’ve seen some spectacular gaffes by the scorer’s table, but that this one topped them all. Every single Baylor player had zeroes in the rebounding columns. However, I was assured it was real. Which left me wondering just how unusual this was.
Most consecutive rebounds to start a game since November 2009
15 12/20/10 UConn vs. Coppin State 14 12/17/12 BYU vs. Baylor 14 2/12/11 Marshall vs. East Carolina 12 2/10/11 Oral Roberts vs. UMKC 12 3/18/11 Duke vs. Hampton 12 12/04/12 Michigan State vs. Nebraska Omaha
We’re approaching 13,000 games in the play-by-play database, so this was a truly amazing occurrence, especially in a game that figured to be competitive. Statistical oddities aside, this highlights the rebounding issues that Baylor faces. For a team chasing an at-large bid, BYU is a below-average offensive rebounding team and yet they would grab 19 of their 40 reboundable misses in this game.
Like most shot-blocking teams, the Bears will give up more offensive boards than the typical team with their size. And since Baylor doesn’t have a lot of girth, they can get pushed around even when they aren’t attempting blocks anyway. Baylor does enough things well – even after BYU’s 21-37 performance on two-point shots, the Bears are still second nationally in two-point percentage allowed – that on most nights this won’t matter, and on other nights they’ll luck into good rebounding numbers. But when you’re breaking down where things can go wrong for the Bears this season, rebounding on both ends of the court is at the top of the list.
Pierre Jackson leads Baylor in usage
I was a little stunned when preparing for the game to learn that Baylor’s point guard tops the team in usage. True, Perry Jones has a comfortable lead in the percentage of shots taken while on the floor, and the difference between the two in terms of usage can be chalked up to turnovers. Still, for the first time I can remember, Jones was the obvious focal point of the offense in a competitive game. I don’t know if this will be the beginning of a trend, but it should be. If someone is going to make questionable decisions, you’d rather it be Perry Jones than Pierre Jackson. And because Jones is so good with the ball, he’d have to be a lot more involved to even get to the threshold of making questionable decisions.
Matt Carlino is no Jimmer, but he’s worth watching
The game featured the debut of point guard, and UCLA transfer, Matt Carlino. Unlike with Mike Moser, Ben Howland seemed slightly distressed when Carlino decided to leave Westwood last fall, which was odd because Carlino hadn’t cracked Howland’s rotation to that point. Carlino has been practicing against Jimmer Fredette for the better part of a year, and he’s inherited some of Fredette’s mannerisms. He already has the unconventional jump shot and the tendency to complain to the officials when the whistle goes against him.
Based on his first appearance in a BYU game, he’s an upgrade on a team that needs a playmaker. For those still thinking BYU is a clear 3rd in the WCC regular season race, that didn’t appear to be the case on Saturday. Once Carlino settles into the role, there’s enough here (especially when Stephen Rogers returns from knee surgery in a month) to match what Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s bring to the table.