Welcome to Overreaction Central. The best place to say we will never win another game after a loss, or talk about how long of an unbeaten streak the Bears will run off after any victory (6 is the right answer!). Let's take a deeper look at the Baylor win over Iowa State by a score of 79-64.
The Bears played aggressively. They played quickly (but not rushed). They played with poise. They played....very well. Iowa State is a tournament team and a top 4 team in the Big 12. They are the best team the Bears have beaten in Big 12 play. The Kansas State win might have been better due to being on the road, but Iowa State is a better team.
This was a good win and a much needed win for a team coming off two bad losses to their main competition in the Big 12. The Bears had 4 players score in double figures, led by Perry Jones III with 18 points on 8-13 shooting.
Perry Jones III played very well this game. He missed 5 of his first 8 shots, however they were mostly good looks. He posted up and went after his defender several times, and even forced an early foul on Royce White. Jones III made all of his last 5 shots, including a jumper, a few dunks, and even a great layup off of penetration from the top of the key. This was the top 5 pick Perry Jones III.
However, the best player of the game was Quincy Miller. He controlled the game with his shooting and his passing. This was the best game both he and Jones III have had together. They even connected on some very pretty plays for dunks and easy shots. They finally clicked.
5 keys and PF Update after the jump.
Let's take a look at the 5 keys from the preview.
1. Make shots.
Oh did they make shots. They made short shots, medium shots, and long shots. Even a few dunks. 60% shooting will make any offense look good. However, this was definitely a cause and effect situation. We will talk about the passing in a bit, but I noticed just a much more active offense.
The Bears set good screens and a lot of times, a big would set the screen and immediately go down to the post. The Bears did this almost every possession over a 4 minutes stretch with Quincy Miller. He played very well out of this set, taking his man and making some tough shots (8-13, 16 points with ZERO 3-point attempts) and also passing if any help defense came which led to 6 assists.
I also noticed that the Bears went to a 1 in/4 out offense for a while, with Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III on the perimeter and Quincy Miller down low. This allowed Quincy to use his size advantage on the smaller player (usually Chris Babb, 6-5) and also kept the help defense far enough away for him to have room to operate.
The Bears also ran Heslip and Gary Franklin off of screens and they hit 4 of 7 three point attempts. Baylor moved well without the ball and it got them into good scoring positions.
2. Challenge their 3-point shooters.
The Cyclones made 8 three pointers, 1 below their Big 12 average. They had a few runs where they would hit a few, but they could not sustain them. Holding a very good shooting team to 8-26 is a definite win. They did have a few open shots, but for the most part, they were contested looks, just like against Missouri, they just missed them.
For a few minutes in the first half, the Bears went to a man defense, and it worked well. Iowa State was coming off of two possessions in a row of hitting semi-contested 3-pointers, and Drew called a timeout. Out of the timeout, Bello was in and we went man. It worked. They got the ball inside a bit more, but the momentum swung back to the Bears. It was a great call.
3. No easy buckets for White.
7-12, 14 points. Only two FT attempts. The Bears let White get loose a bit in the 2nd half. He scored 10 of his points after the break, and had 3 of his 4 assists. The Bears did a good job of forcing him out of the paint and to put the ball down in traffic in the first half, but with Iowa State hitting some deep shots, the Baylor defenders did not sink down as hard in the 2nd half. However, this was a very good performance against one of the better players in the Big 12.
White started the game rough, with 3 quick turnovers. He seemed uncomfortable against the zone, and how the Bears were attacking him. White though responded with a much better 2nd half, catching the ball and moving quickly, rather than catching and surveying the court.
4. Second Chance points.
Was off on this one a bit. However, don't hold it against me. When you shoot that well, there is not going to be a TON of second chance opportunities. We just had 6 second chance points. Oh well, 60% shooting is more important.
5. 15 assists.
How about 24. That do it for ya? The ball movement was excellent. Our spacing was good and when we got into the paint we repeatedly kicked it out to find open shooters. For once we were the ones getting into the paint, drawing the defender and passing to the wide open big man. Great ball movement. Our guards played within themselves and got into the lane numerous times.
Gary Franklin was the first guard off the bench, and had a sneaky good game. 6 points on 2-3 shooting from behind the arc, an assist and no turnovers for the Sophomore. He ran the offense well and it seemed he played more of the point guard role when he and AJ Walton were out there together.
Pierre Jackson was excellent as a passer, with a game high 9 assists. Even the maligned AJ Walton had 3 assists. Overall the Bears had 24 assists and just 8 turnovers.
Baylor reminds us that, while maybe they aren't an elite team, they are still a very good team
Things looked pretty bleak for a while there. The problem with so many close wins over decent, but not great, teams as a resume builder is that it doesn't take too many poor outings in a row to make you question whether or not this actually is a great team. The benefit to those wins is that it gives you confidence that your team has gained confidence that they can execute in those close and late situations.
At the end of the year, tonight's win over Iowa State is going to be viewed similarly to wins at BYU, and against Mississippi State and West Virginia. Still, there was a bit of an edge that Baylor came out with tonight; they knew that they were the better team and were eager to prove it. Even when Iowa State started draining three's, Baylor stayed relatively calm and stuck to their game plan of breaking down Iowa State's defense with the dribble and then making their jump shots.
It was nice to see Baylor have a decent gameplan for Royce White after getting abused by the Kansas Jayhawk's Withey/Robinson and earlier in the year by Mizzou's Ricardo Ratliffe. White ended up with 14 points and 4 offensive rebounds (5 total), but also had 4 personal fouls and 7 turnovers. I expect that he will be much tougher to contain when Baylor revisits the matchup with their trip to Hilton Coliseum.
The big takeaway for me tonight (outside, of course, of finding out that Cory Jefferson's teammates have nicknamed him 2-Sleeve) is how much fun the players looked like they were having. I know that seems like a fairly inane point, but it seemed clear that the Bears put a lot of pressure on themselves to perform well on the biggest stages (that for some reason included the Big12Network), and when they failed to meet any form of expectations for the week, it clearly weighed on them. It's not just that they won, or even that they won handily, it's that they confidently and methodically worked Iowa State over to the point that even during Iowa State's run, the game never felt in doubt. This wasn't a game where they were merely hot from three point land and won in a fluky manner. And that's about as good of an outcome that could have come out of tonight's game...