KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was a mixed bag for the BYU basketball team this week.
The Cougars (5-2) defeated Texas in dramatic fashion Monday, then faltered down the stretch against No. 12 Wichita State, 75-62, Tuesday.
Guard Matt Carlino shined at the Sprint Center, particularly from beyond the arc. He knocked down 9 of 16 shots overall from 3-point territory — including 8 of 11 in the first half — in the two games of the College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame Classic.
His first-half performances helped give BYU double-digit leads against the Longhorns and Shockers.
In the second half against Wichita State, Carlino and the Cougars went cold.
BYU made just six field goals in the final 20 minutes.
“Matt Carlino was on fire. He had 18 at the half,” said Shockers coach Gregg Marshall. “He came out and was making everything. You don’t know what happens, other than the defense has to get a little credit. All of a sudden he wasn’t just a bad shooter. He just was not making the shots. In the first half, they were making 50 percent of their threes and when they don’t make one in the second. It’s defense.”
Why did the Cougars struggle offensively in the second half?
“I don’t think we were maybe attacking the rim as much as were wanting to,” said Carlino, who poured in a total 41 points against the Longhorns and Shockers. “They did a good job defensively, too. We went through too many lulls in the game where we just didn’t make any field goals.”
"These are hard games for us to win when we're not shooting the ball well," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "I was really proud of the guys for how they hung in there in a tough situation. Sometimes when you don't score you can see it on the guys' faces as far as the effort they give on the defensive end and we didn't really see a lot of that tonight. These guys hung in there and fought and we just came up a few points short."
AUSTIN APOLOGIZES: BYU forward Nate Austin tracked down Wichita State guard Ron Baker at the Sprint Center after Tuesday’s game to apologize for committing a flagrant foul late in contest, leading to Austin’s ejection.
Baker took an elbow on his jaw from Austin, though Baker said during the post-game press conference, he didn’t think Austin saw him as the two players jostled for a rebound.
Baker, was named the tournament’s MVP after he scored a career-high 23 points against BYU. Austin finished with 12 rebounds, two blocks and zero points.
GOING DANCING?: Marshall was impressed with the Cougars.
“That’s a very tough ballgame against a very good basketball team,” he said. “They will be in the NCAA tournament barring something unforeseen. I am happy we could come out with a win, a championship here in Kansas City.”
Rose knows that his team had an opportunity to pull an upset.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game. Both teams were obviously playing to win a championship,” he said. “I think it came down to the few plays late in the game. Give Wichita State credit, they hit a couple of big shots from the perimeter. They got some big rebounds and ended up with a big win.”
RANKED OPPONENTS: The Cougars have now lost 11 of their last 12 games against ranked opponents. BYU has dropped six in a row against ranked teams since a victory over then-No. 24 Gonzaga in 2012.
NOTES: Tyler Haws, who scored 17 points against Wichita State, failed to score 20 points for the first time in his last 11 games ... Haws passed Alan Taylor to take over the 22nd spot in career scoring. He finished the game one point behind Dick Nemelka for 21st ... Eric Mika scored in double figures for the sixth straight game. He had 10 points against the Shockers.
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