Baylor 58, Washington State 52
- If you want to single out one reason as to why the Cougars lost last night, it's free throw rate. Cue the four factors chart:
- Remember, FT rate is free throws attempted divided by field goals attempted. 62.5% is borderline absurd. If the Cougars are going to go to the tournament this year they have to stop letting teams abuse them at the foul line. Pittsburgh did, Baylor did, and those are your two losses on the season. Like Pitt, the Bears made more free throws (21) than the Cougars attempted (19).
- Free throw rate wasn't a total embarrasment like the Pitt game, but Baylor drained their free throws. 21 of 25 for the night, good for 84%. WSU meanwhile shot 12 of 19 at the charity stripe, good for 63.2%. We have to improve that.
- Speaking of missed free throws, I can't fault the Cougars entirely, as Baylor coach Scott Drew took it upon himself to scream "BOX OUT!" repeatedly during every Cougar free throw attempt. One of the reasons this recap is coming so late is that if I had written it last night I would've surely said something about Drew I would've regretted. Simply put, if Coach Drew feels like he needs to rely on gimmicks to help his team, because they aren't good enough to win it on their own, that's his decision. As a coach you are a representative of your university, and should be enough of a man to show sportsmanship on and off the court. Scott Drew has a lot of growing up to do. It was a disgraceful performance, one of the worst I've seen by a coach, and it reflects on his players. Showboating and running their mouths; in warmups and in the game. Flopping even when no contact was made. I can't tell you how much it means to me that the Cougars play with dignity and class - it's a reflection on Tony Bennett. Move over, Stanford and Oregon - I have new team that I hate, and it's the Baylor Bears.
- Excuse me for going on that rant. Overall the game was tightly called, hotly contested, and not as sloppy as you might have thought. The defense was great on both sides, and I think Tony summed the night up well:
"We have to play at our best or we are going to be in trouble. Our guys are going to be disappointed when they see all the breakdowns we had."
- Sad, but very true. Still, I'm pretty happy. This was a game the Cougars could have won, maybe even should have won. A couple of simple mistakes - not to mention those two shots that Henry Dugat pulled out of you-know-where - were really the difference in this one. WSU played well, just not well enough. But remember one key thing: This will be great preparation for Gonzaga. Tony got Abe Lodwick, Mike Harthun, and especially DeAngelo Casto some key minutes in this game. They can't help but benefit from that.
- CougCenter Player of the Game: Daven Harmeling. He was the "third scorer" tonight, with 14 points on five of eight shooting (four of five threes!). Problem is our #1 scorer was limited las night, in Klay Thompson. Part of that was early foul trouble, part of it was (and credit Nuss for noticing this) a good game plan by BU that dared someone else to beat them.
- CougCenter Play of the Game: Daven Harmeling's three to tie the game at 41-41. That was truly one of the most magical moments I've been a part of in Beasley, not involving a game ending play. From that point on the place was rocking. It was one of those shots that just seemed like it was destined to happen, the way the Cougars were fighting back from their halftime deficit.
- Ultimately, Cougar Nation, you can't let this one get you down. Baylor was the better team on this evening, and the Cougs fought hard. A lot of the deficiencies - poor shot selection, inexperience, cheap fouls - are all fixable, and will all improve by the end of this season. This is still a good team.
Go Cougs. Beat Gonzaga.