Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: At the NIT Semi-Finals

by Ray Floriani

New York City - BYU did what they wanted. In the end Baylor had too much and held on for a 76-70 victory in the NIT semifinals. The Bears will face Iowa, 71-60 winners over Maryland in the other semi, for the NIT championship.

In a 68 possession game, Baylor held theedge in offensive efficiency:In a 68 possession game, Baylor held the edge in offensive efficiency:


One of the priorities of BU coach Dave Rose was rebounding. Despite Baylor's size, Rose felt his team needed to compete and win the boards for a chance of getting to the final. In raw numbers BYU won that battle 40-33. The tempo free OREB percentage also saw the Cougars on top.

Both clubs took meticulous care of the ball with BYU showing a 16% turnover rate and Baylor an outstanding 10%. In the end it was a scoring drought on the part of the Cougars that allowed Baylor to gain some separation. A late BYU run sparked by the shooting of Matt Carfino (19 points and four threes the last five minutes) got it to a one possession game late but Baylor was able to maintain the edge.

The stat MVP.
Scott Drew's outstanding lead guard Pierre Jackson. The Baylor standout senior scored 24 points and handed out 10 assists. In efficiency (using the NBA model) Jackson had a game high 27 efficiency. The main blemishes on the efficiency side were 6 of 14 shooting and four turnovers. Given the time the ball is in his hands and his expert orchestrating of the offense, the four turnovers are generally 'excusable'. Especially against those 10 assists in 38 minutes of action.

As of late there has been much talk of Baylor. Most recently over the demise and upset of the defending national championship women's team. The national championship may return to Waco in the form of an NIT title. On Tuesday, Baylor did have a national champion grace the MSG hardwood.

Baylor twirler Allison Hatfield in action

Allison Hatfield a Baylor junior and baton twirler of international status, and a US champion, performed for the crowd. Her take on a first trip to MSG : "I have performed at Cowboys Stadium, Reliant Stadium and the Alamodome and there is nothing like being at the 'world's most famous arena'. The history and tradition here are fantastic."

The entire Baylor program is hoping to add to that tradition with a win on Thursday.

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