Overreaction Central - Bears destroy WVU

The Bears improve to 16-8 overall and 7-4 in the Big 12 conference with dominant 80-60 win over West Virginia.

The Baylor Bears used a stifling defense and great shot making from a variety of players to easily dispatch the West Virginia Mountaineers 80-60 last night in Waco. While the win was great for the night, I want to talk about a few things that looked really good in regards to the future of this season. While each individual game is important, the big picture has to be kept in perspective. Let's get to a four questions that might have been answered last night in one of the Bears better performances.

NCAA Basketball

Did Brady Heslip finally arrive for the 2012-2013 season? For the first time since the St. John's game all the way back in mid-November, Brady Heslip scored more than 20 points. He was a scorching 6-9 from the three point line, but this is now three games in a row where I thought he has played at least solid. He had 9 points against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (both on 3 of 8 shooting from behind the arc). He has made 12 of his last 25 three-pointers (48%) and is being much more aggressive and confident with his shot.

Did Ricardo Gathers learn how to finish? There were two main deficiencies in Rico's game on the offensive end. First, he struggled to finish around the rim, especially through contact. Second, his free throw shooting. In this game, both of these weaknesses turned into strengths and helped him to a career night. He had three and-one chances in the game, all through tough contact right around the rim. He also had several dunks off of great assists by penetrating guards.

Finally, Rico made 8 of 10 free throws, a shocking percentage considering he has been right around 80% all year. You expect freshman to get better throughout the year, but if Rico has refined these two areas already in his career and can continue to perform at a solid level, he is going to be a special talent for the Bears.

Has Pierre Jackson learned how to value the ball? You cannot fault the end results of Pierre's offensive contributions. He could be the first player in a power conference to lead his league in scoring and assists since Jason Terry in 1999. But ball security has sometimes been forgotten by Pierre, as he has struggled with turnovers in both of his years with Baylor.

Last year he averaged 3.5 turnovers per game, while this year his average is up to 3.6. The last two games though, he has had just 3 and 2 turnovers. He has also had 7 and 9 assists, so it is not like he is just not passing anymore.

You are always going to get turnovers with a player like Jackson, someone that plays so much faster than everyone else on the court will sometimes go too fast. But he has to be able to differentiate between making the right play and the highlight play, and I have seen that adjustment since the 11 turnover debacle against Oklahoma State.

Did A.J. Walton figure out his role in the offense? The past few games, teams have started to sag off of AJ Walton and help out more on the interior removing some of the passing lanes into the post and dribble penetration lanes for Pierre Jackson. Against Texas Tech, AJ Walton started the game off 0-7 from the field, and was never really close on any of those shots. He took 3 of the Bears first 5 shots in the game, leading to a quick sub in of Gary Franklin. Needless to say, those long jumpers were not a great choice. In the three game losing streak, AJ was just 12 of 31 from the floor. He had 13 shot attempts against Oklahoma (second most on the team) and 12 against Iowa State (Tied for most on the team). That is not good for your 5th option on offense.

But against West Virginia, the Bears might have solved the issue of having AJ out there and not have their spacing destroyed. Several times in the game, Walton would catch the ball on the perimeter without a defender close to him. Instead of shooting, he attacked the paint hard causing the defense to come to him, and usually leave a post player open near the basket. AJ had 5 assists against West Virginia (tied for a Big 12 season high) and more importantly took just 4 shots. At this point in his career, AJ is much better at dribble penetration and finding an open player off of the help defense than jacking up a 20 foot shot.

Not all was great against West Virginia for the Bears. Both starting post players, Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson struggled terribly with the strength and size of the West Virginia post players, especially Austin. In his worst game as a freshman, Austin had just 5 points on 2-8 shooting and had just a single rebound in 23 minutes of action. Austin has been an excellent rebounder all year, but was pushed out so far by the West Virginia post players, he was taken out of most plays. The same problem happened on offense, as Austin could not get anywhere close to deep post position and was relegated to long jumpers all night.

But this was a great win for the Bears, as they ride a 2-game winning streak into their toughest game remaining on the schedule; a trip to Manhattan to take on Kansas State Saturday evening. If we continue to see the positive answers to those four questions above, the Bears have a good chance of finishing the 2013 campaign on a roll.


Bears Illustrated Top Stories

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Did Brady Heslip finally arrive for the 2012-2013 season? For the first time since the St. John's game all the way back in mid-November, Brady Heslip scored more than 20 points. He was a scorching 6-9 from the three point line, but this is now three games in a row where I thought he has played at least solid. He had 9 points against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (both on 3 of 8 shooting from behind the arc). He has made 12 of his last 25 three-pointers (48%) and is being much more aggressive and confident with his shot.

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Did Ricardo Gathers learn how to finish? There were two main deficiencies in Rico's game on the offensive end. First, he struggled to finish around the rim, especially through contact. Second, his free throw shooting. In this game, both of these weaknesses turned into strengths and helped him to a career night. He had three and-one chances in the game, all through tough contact right around the rim. He also had several dunks off of great assists by penetrating guards.

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Finally, Rico made 8 of 10 free throws, a shocking percentage considering he has been right around 80% all year. You expect freshman to get better throughout the year, but if Rico has refined these two areas already in his career and can continue to perform at a solid level, he is going to be a special talent for the Bears.

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Has Pierre Jackson learned how to value the ball? You cannot fault the end results of Pierre's offensive contributions. He could be the first player in a power conference to lead his league in scoring and assists since Jason Terry in 1999. But ball security has sometimes been forgotten by Pierre, as he has struggled with turnovers in both of his years with Baylor.

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Last year he averaged 3.5 turnovers per game, while this year his average is up to 3.6. The last two games though, he has had just 3 and 2 turnovers. He has also had 7 and 9 assists, so it is not like he is just not passing anymore.

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You are always going to get turnovers with a player like Jackson, someone that plays so much faster than everyone else on the court will sometimes go too fast. But he has to be able to differentiate between making the right play and the highlight play, and I have seen that adjustment since the 11 turnover debacle against Oklahoma State.

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Did A.J. Walton figure out his role in the offense? The past few games, teams have started to sag off of AJ Walton and help out more on the interior removing some of the passing lanes into the post and dribble penetration lanes for Pierre Jackson. Against Texas Tech, AJ Walton started the game off 0-7 from the field, and was never really close on any of those shots. He took 3 of the Bears first 5 shots in the game, leading to a quick sub in of Gary Franklin. Needless to say, those long jumpers were not a great choice. In the three game losing streak, AJ was just 12 of 31 from the floor. He had 13 shot attempts against Oklahoma (second most on the team) and 12 against Iowa State (Tied for most on the team). That is not good for your 5th option on offense.

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But against West Virginia, the Bears might have solved the issue of having AJ out there and not have their spacing destroyed. Several times in the game, Walton would catch the ball on the perimeter without a defender close to him. Instead of shooting, he attacked the paint hard causing the defense to come to him, and usually leave a post player open near the basket. AJ had 5 assists against West Virginia (tied for a Big 12 season high) and more importantly took just 4 shots. At this point in his career, AJ is much better at dribble penetration and finding an open player off of the help defense than jacking up a 20 foot shot.

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Not all was great against West Virginia for the Bears. Both starting post players, Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson struggled terribly with the strength and size of the West Virginia post players, especially Austin. In his worst game as a freshman, Austin had just 5 points on 2-8 shooting and had just a single rebound in 23 minutes of action. Austin has been an excellent rebounder all year, but was pushed out so far by the West Virginia post players, he was taken out of most plays. The same problem happened on offense, as Austin could not get anywhere close to deep post position and was relegated to long jumpers all night.

\r\n\r\n

But this was a great win for the Bears, as they ride a 2-game winning streak into their toughest game remaining on the schedule; a trip to Manhattan to take on Kansas State Saturday evening. If we continue to see the positive answers to those four questions above, the Bears have a good chance of finishing the 2013 campaign on a roll.

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The Baylor Bears used a stifling defense and great shot making from a variety of players to easily dispatch the West Virginia Mountaineers 80-60 last night in Waco. While the win was great for the night, I want to talk about a few things that looked really good in regards to the future of this season. While each individual game is important, the big picture has to be kept in perspective. Let's get to a four questions that might have been answered last night in one of the Bears better performances.

For the first time since the St. John's game all the way back in mid-November, Brady Heslip scored more than 20 points. He was a scorching 6-9 from the three point line, but this is now three games in a row where I thought he has played at least solid. He had 9 points against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (both on 3 of 8 shooting from behind the arc). He has made 12 of his last 25 three-pointers (48%) and is being much more aggressive and confident with his shot.

There were two main deficiencies in Rico's game on the offensive end. First, he struggled to finish around the rim, especially through contact. Second, his free throw shooting. In this game, both of these weaknesses turned into strengths and helped him to a career night. He had three and-one chances in the game, all through tough contact right around the rim. He also had several dunks off of great assists by penetrating guards.

Finally, Rico made 8 of 10 free throws, a shocking percentage considering he has been right around 80% all year. You expect freshman to get better throughout the year, but if Rico has refined these two areas already in his career and can continue to perform at a solid level, he is going to be a special talent for the Bears.

You cannot fault the end results of Pierre's offensive contributions. He could be the first player in a power conference to lead his league in scoring and assists since Jason Terry in 1999. But ball security has sometimes been forgotten by Pierre, as he has struggled with turnovers in both of his years with Baylor.

Last year he averaged 3.5 turnovers per game, while this year his average is up to 3.6. The last two games though, he has had just 3 and 2 turnovers. He has also had 7 and 9 assists, so it is not like he is just not passing anymore.

You are always going to get turnovers with a player like Jackson, someone that plays so much faster than everyone else on the court will sometimes go too fast. But he has to be able to differentiate between making the right play and the highlight play, and I have seen that adjustment since the 11 turnover debacle against Oklahoma State.

The past few games, teams have started to sag off of AJ Walton and help out more on the interior removing some of the passing lanes into the post and dribble penetration lanes for Pierre Jackson. Against Texas Tech, AJ Walton started the game off 0-7 from the field, and was never really close on any of those shots. He took 3 of the Bears first 5 shots in the game, leading to a quick sub in of Gary Franklin. Needless to say, those long jumpers were not a great choice. In the three game losing streak, AJ was just 12 of 31 from the floor. He had 13 shot attempts against Oklahoma (second most on the team) and 12 against Iowa State (Tied for most on the team). That is not good for your 5 option on offense.

But against West Virginia, the Bears might have solved the issue of having AJ out there and not have their spacing destroyed. Several times in the game, Walton would catch the ball on the perimeter without a defender close to him. Instead of shooting, he attacked the paint hard causing the defense to come to him, and usually leave a post player open near the basket. AJ had 5 assists against West Virginia (tied for a Big 12 season high) and more importantly took just 4 shots. At this point in his career, AJ is much better at dribble penetration and finding an open player off of the help defense than jacking up a 20 foot shot.

Not all was great against West Virginia for the Bears. Both starting post players, Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson struggled terribly with the strength and size of the West Virginia post players, especially Austin. In his worst game as a freshman, Austin had just 5 points on 2-8 shooting and had just a single rebound in 23 minutes of action. Austin has been an excellent rebounder all year, but was pushed out so far by the West Virginia post players, he was taken out of most plays. The same problem happened on offense, as Austin could not get anywhere close to deep post position and was relegated to long jumpers all night.

But this was a great win for the Bears, as they ride a 2-game winning streak into their toughest game remaining on the schedule; a trip to Manhattan to take on Kansas State Saturday evening. If we continue to see the positive answers to those four questions above, the Bears have a good chance of finishing the 2013 campaign on a roll.

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