Baylor didn’t give fans much hope after the first half. They scored 20 points. They put Arizona in the bonus before the first media timeout. And they went 2-of-13 from beyond the arc in the period.
Luckily basketball has two halves. Here are some major stats:
“How does Baylor out-rebound Arizona by 36?” pic.twitter.com/qBtokEouB1— Eric Fawcett (@Efawcett7) December 16, 2018
Offensive rebounds: Baylor grabbed an offensive rebound on 57% of their shots. Portland State leads the nation with an offensive rebounding rate of 44.1%. It’s stunning that Arizona allowed Baylor to blow past that number.
52 game home non-conference winning streak: That stat is now dead. Arizona hadn’t lost a home non-conference game since 2011.
Officiating: Both teams were in the bonus by the second media timeout. Each team faced a terrible whistle. John Higgins’ crew started the game calling Mario Kegler for two weak off-ball screens. Tristan Clark and Makai Mason apparently charged into Arizona’s defenders as well. Those fouls hampered the Bears’ rotations and ruined the flow of the game.
Arizona had plenty to gripe about too. To ensure the game was called equally, the Wildcats slightly touching Baylor on off-ball screens led to two fouls on the Wildcats. Those were terrible calls too. In the second half, Mason was in a bang-bang play about a block/charge. I thought it was a charge, but it was very close. They called a block, yet it somehow wasn’t in the act of shooting. A fitting call for such a bad day by the referees.
Highlights from tonight’s big 9-point win in Tucson!#SicArizona | #1TGF pic.twitter.com/FKpM3VGgvx— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) December 16, 2018
Free Throw shooting: Arizona and Baylor both went 50% or worse from the stripe. Baylor finished 10-of-20 and Arizona was 2-of-6. Arizona would have shot even fewer free throws, but the Bears picked up a lane violation after a 1-and-1 went out. Arizona hit the new attempt, and then made the second shot too.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew after beating Arizona 58-49 at McKale Center: pic.twitter.com/TeEkquVyaT— Justin Spears (@JustinESports) December 16, 2018
“Just weren’t tough enough.” Arizona big man Chase Jeter on why Baylor picked up so many rebounds.
“We kind of had that deer in the headlights look.” Arizona coach Sean Miller on facing Baylor’s zone.
“You don’t want to jinx it and say anything.” Scott Drew when asked to put Baylor’s rebounding into perspective by Justin Spears.
“We’re led by Mark. Just his physicality in practice.” Makai Mason told Justin Spears how Baylor was able to rebound so well.
Vital wasn’t only an excellent rebounder on Saturday. He did a nice job in some of Baylor’s high-low actions. He found Kegler early in the game:
Mason proved the old adage, “if you want to get open, set a back screen for someone.” He did, and it led to an open three:
Mason’s aggressiveness on offense was massive for the Bears. He drove the lane like Manu Lecomte did last season in Lawrence. Drew said that Mason doesn’t quite have both legs back yet, but he’s getting closer.
The Bears have a good enough defense that they can stay in games with an okay offense. The offense hasn’t been close to okay for most of the season.
The shooting has to get at least a little bit better. It’s not possible Baylor’s this bad at shooting. If Mason can stay healthy, the team just might make a run.