In a two overtime game decided by a single point, so many things can make the difference. But nothing matches Terry Maston’s importance in ensuring Baylor’s sixth straight win against Texas.
Texas ranks 8th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. Mo Bamba leads the conference in blocks and has a 7—foot—9 wingspan. He provides help on nearly every drive and makes it incredibly difficult to score. Add in guards that contest well, and scoring against the Longhorns is a difficult challenge.
The Bears responded by unleashing Maston, and they were a monumentally different team when he shot. He scored 26 points on the 20 plays where he shot or turned it over. That’s 1.3 points per possession (PPP), which ranks better than Villanova’s nation’s best offense. On the Bear’s remaining 54 plays, they scored just 48 points, which is good for .89 PPP, or the equivalent of the nation’s second worst offense.
To understand how Maston scored against such a good defense, let’s go to the tape.
After two turnovers on his first two touches, the Bears ran a high pick-and-roll with Maston. Jericho Sims dropped back and “weaks” the action to try and force Lecomte left. Usually, giving up a long 2-point jump shot is a good defensive move. Against Maston, it’s not:
Texas switched this action, and Maston took Eric Davis deep into the paint. Sims provided nice help, but Maston just made the shot:
Twice, Maston scored after King McClure set a back screen to ensure Dylan Osetkowski would be isolated on Maston. They ran this early in the second half and late in the second overtime. It worked both times:
Baylor mixed up some of their most common sets to free Maston. The Bears often run a high horns play where two big men set high screens, and two shooters are stationed in opposite corners. In this twist, the Bears had McClure step up high to provide a screen for Osetkowski to run around. He was a little late, and Maston drilled the shot:
Maston didn’t just score against Osetkowski. He ended up isolated on Bamba. At maybe 6—foot—7, Maston is at a severe length disadvantage with Bamba. Maston made Bamba’s length irrelevant:
Credit to Drew and the staff for finding a way to get Maston isolated on Osetkowski. The man gave it his best shot. His best shot was not good enough. Maston scored two more times in isolation, and he drew a foul on a third possession. This Longhorn didn’t have a chance:
Maston wasn’t perfect. He picked up a really stupid technical foul by pushing Bamba. After the game Maston owned the mistake. But you can forgive a guy for losing his cool when he can do this:
The best sign for the Bears is that Maston was superb against hard hedging. As I’ve mentioned, if there’s one constant when wondering how teams will defend Baylor, it’s that anyone that can hard hedge, will hard hedge. With smaller guards, opponents love to come out on Baylor’s guards.
Maston’s adept at getting open when the opponent tries to hard hedge. If he keeps this up, the blueprint for defending Baylor may be as wrong as those that wrote off Baylor’s tournament chances:
Maston broke his hand against Xavier in December, and not long after, the Bears season spiraled. He returned in January, but with a plate in his right hand, his shot wasn’t there.
Texas had an answer when Maston wasn’t shooting. Luckily, Maston’s still taking shots for the Bears.