Some 22,700 college basketball fans were treated to a fantastic game Saturday at the Marriott Center, as No. 6 Baylor proved worthy of its lofty ranking with an 86-83 win over the Cougars.
The Bears improved to 9-0 with the win, while the Cougars dropped to 8-3 in what will be remembered down the road as UCLA transfer Matt Carlino's first game and an opportunity lost for BYU. The BYU freshman point guard scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, but it wasn't quite enough as Baylor got 28 points from superstar Perry Jones III to get the win.
Meanwhile, the Cougars significant leads in both halves -- 13 in the first, eight in the second -- and again were victimized by a scoring drought in the second half, just as they were in losses to Wisconsin and Utah State.
Be sure to check out the Tribune's coverage of the game, which goes beyond what will be printed in the newspaper. Check out sltrib.com/cougars for my game story, a sidebar on why the Cougars didn't call timeout after Baylor's missed free throw in the final seconds, and columnist Kurt Kragthorpe's commentary focusing on Carlino's debut.
It was a rare loss in the Marriott Center for BYU coach Dave Rose. Here are the majority of Rose's postgame comments to the media:
"I thought it was a great game by two really competitive team. I thought our team played hard, we competed hard. I thought that Baylor made some terrific plays, especially right down the stretch. Not only offensive plays, but defensive plays. They made it really tough on us. But we competed, and we had quite a few chances there. We just came up a play or two short.
Our guys are really disappointed in the locker room, and they should be, because they believed we would come in here and win the game. We were close. What we need to do is kind of regroup and get ready for a tough Buffalo team that is coming here on Tuesday."
On Matt Carlino's first game:
"You hope that he will be able to come in and with all the emotions of the game -- what a great environment, what a great college basketball environment against a really talented team -- and playing against three point guards that are extremely quick, really athletic.
For him to be able to have some success early should help his confidence and be able to help our team."
On how much the turnovers down the stretch hurt the Cougars:
"Well turnovers in the first half hurt us, too. I think they scored 26 points off our turnovers. And that's a big part of what they do. They play to turn you over. They recruit to turn you over.
Their personnel is long, they are quick, they are deep. They can take a lot of chances. Foul trouble doesn't seem to be an issue with this team because they can go so deep down their roster.
That was something that we had to overcome.
I think that their three-point shooting was a real difference in the game. We tried to help on those post players, and when we didn't help on the post players, they seemed to have their way with us.
All that being said, we had a chance. We get a miss. We think we have a rebound, and Perry Jones jumps up there and grabs it and sticks it back in. So they made plays. They deserved to win."
On the sequence right before halftime when Baylor got back in it:
"Well I think that they changed their personnel a little bit, and went to two point guards -- two quick, aggressive guys, and pressured us. Instead of speeding it up like we wanted it to, and play at that pace, we kinda got a little bit timid and turned the ball over a time or two, and they scored.
I thought going in at halftime with a four-point lead, that we just needed to go out and play another aggressive second half and for the most part we did. We hit a little spot there in the middle of the second half where they seemed to really be the aggressor and got us on our heels.
Then we recovered from it. There are a lot of really good things that happened in the game, but when you don't win, it is hard to see that."
On the last eight seconds:
"Well, the play that we had called, we were going to race it up and try to get it to our guard popping out for a little three-point shot. I thought we had a better opportunity in transition to get that shot off than if we call a timeout and give their five a shot at our five.
What happened was we kinda got out of kilter. We couldn't get the handoff where we wanted, and we got the ball to Brandon, who is not our best three-point shooter, and they made a nice play on it."
On the game overall:
"I thought we gave them a really good game and had a lot of chances to win. And we have got some young guys that were a play or two short."
More on Carlino's game:
"He needs experience. That's what all young players need, experience in those situations. I mean, I can remember a few years ago we had a game up at Utah, and had a wide open three down the middle from Jimmer to win the game. We miss it and go into overtime and lose. And what made him better? He played a lot more. You just need experience."
On the point guard differences between Cusick and Carlino:
"We have to make sure we continue to use the real strength of our team, which is our front line. We need to get that thing into the post. Tonight, it was really difficult to get the ball inside. Those guys were long, physical, and it was a challenge to get it in."
On how encouraged he is by playing Baylor tough:
"I think we saw a lot of really good things in this game. This is a team that had us on our heels and we were able to recover from that and get the game back on our side. I thought our crowd was terrific. The atmosphere, the energy, the emotion in the building was exciting. You want to get everybody in here and you want to win the game. But for our team, our situation, where we are right now, I thought that was a really good effort.
We are not pleased by any means with the result, but we can build on it and get better from it."
On the officiating and the momentum:
"That's all part of the experience of the game. You have to play through everything. I thought we did a good job of that. I thought our players left the officials alone and worried about their execution and challenge at hand. In an environment like that, sometimes it is difficult because you lose your cool. I thought we stayed within ourselves pretty well."