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Shooting Explains Almost Everything: Baylor Basketball’s Big Problem

The shooting is catastrophic

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor has lost four games to teams that will either not make the NCAA Tournament or will get bounced quickly as automatic qualifiers.

When a team losses those kind of games, everything gets blamed. But it’s quite simple for Baylor: the team can’t shoot.

The Bears entered the Stephen F. Austin game 307th in 3-point percentage, making just 29.7% of 3-point attempts. They proceeded to go 4-of-24 (16.7%) from three. Now they’re 322nd in that category. Among power seven teams, only Texas A&M is a worse from beyond the arc.

Baylor’s also terrible at hitting free throws. The Bears entered the SFA game 278th in free throw percentage. They shot even worse than that tonight (12-of-21).

Sadly Baylor’s even worse in those categories when the game gets close. Mark Vital is shooting 38% from the free throw line. Teams foul and aggressively whack him anytime they can late. He also misses 1-and-1 shots, which limits another opportunity for a bucket. But Vital shouldn’t draw the ire of fans. Without him, Baylor wouldn’t have any more victories. His offensive rebounding is essential to the team’s offense because a team that shoots this poorly needs as many shots as possible. But it’d just be nice if he could hit a few more free throws.

Baylor’s shooting frames all their problems. When they shoot so poorly, teams space off shooters. That makes it difficult to get Tristan Clark the ball. Clark is shooting over 95% near the hoop. If Baylor can just get him the ball in space, he’s going to score:

The problem is that Baylor’s opponents are often doubling him or crashing passing lanes immediately. Teams are daring Baylor’s guards and wings to make threes. Almost none of them have been doing that.

Baylor’s defense has been good. Sure the Bears have a few possessions where they miss a rotation or fail to stop the ball. But SFA scored just .83 PPP. That’s worse than America’s worst offense averages. A team should win almost every game when their opponent scores at that clip. But Baylor’s shooting worse than 92% of teams from three. If that doesn’t improve, these kind of losses will keep happening.