No. 5 Baylor (5-0) blasted Arizona State (2-3) to open the Battle 4 Atlantis. Baylor will take on VCU at 4:00 tomorrow.
Even with the caveat that Arizona State isn’t great—and worse with Marcus Bagley injured—Baylor has played like one of the country’s four best teams over its last two games. The Bears are everywhere on defense, and this team looks like a real title contender.
1) Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua’s switching was incredible- Baylor’s switching a lot more ball screens and hand-offs to start this year. Last year Baylor would switch a lot when Mark Vital played center, but when Jon or Flo Thamba played, the Bears didn’t always switch. Although that duo could handle guards, they were vulnerable to getting blown by off the dribble by guards.
Tonight Jon was simply incredible. In the first half, he spent 20 seconds defending Arizona State’s guards. His defense led to a missed shot, and the Bears took over in transition. He then sprinted the floor, which opened up Kendall Brown for a three.
Jon also set a fantastic screen before halftime that led to a Baylor three; he’s incredibly active on the offensive glass too, especially by tipping the ball back to Baylor’s guards.
2) LJ Cryer is still scoring well- Arizona State hit a trio of ridiculous triples to open the contest. That gave the Sun Devils an 11-5 leave. No problem. LJ Cryer hit two threes, and showed he’s a walking bucket. It’s early, but he’s a big favorite for Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year. He finished 3-of-5 from deep, including a late three that ended any hope Arizona State would make it a game late.
3) James Akinjo is close, but has a bit to work on- Akinjo’s played on some bleh teams at Georgetown and Arizona. So he’s likely built some habits while thinking he needs to always score.
Early in the game, Arizona State gave Akinjo space to take threes off screens. Instead Akinjo drove into some long twos. He should just embrace taking threes. He shot over 40% at Arizona on a high number of attempts.
He also needs to figure out when he’s over dribbling. That’s a difficult balance. He did well finding Thamba for a pocket pass and hit his own three in the first half. That bodes well for him getting this figured out.
Akinjo has been way better over the last two games. That’s expected. He should continue to grasp how to run a substantially better team than any he’s played on.