After losing at home to a very mediocre Loyola Marymount team, BYU has now fallen to 16-5 (5-2 WCC). What’s worse for the Cougars is that they their hopes for an at large NCAA tournament bid are now hanging by a thread. BYU can still control their own destiny with games coming up against Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s, and two against Gonzaga. The WCC still looks to be a two bid conference, but BYU must right some wrongs before January 25, when they start their three game stretch against the Hokies, Gaels, and Bulldogs.
3 Point Shooting
Jimmermania has spoiled BYU fans in a way. They aren’t used to seeing off-shooting nights. But the Cougar’s five losses this season can be partially attributed to their three point shooting. After their abysmal performance against LMU, where the Cougars made just 2 of 25 shots from downtown, their season total in all five losses is now 20-83 (24%).
In contrast, when BYU shoots well from three, they win and usually win big. In the Cougar’s 16 wins, they are shooting 44% from beyond the arc.
In Thursday’s loss to LMU, BYU shot just 8% from three. That goes down as the Cougar’s worst three-point shooting performance since February 7, 2004 against UNLV where BYU shot 1-15 from three (6.7%). Miraculously, the Cougars were able to pull out a win then.
Shooting isn’t the only issue the Cougars are facing this season. The Cougars are allowing opponents hit open shots from three. With Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies down low defending the post well, BYU’s perimeter defense has become the weak link.
In those same five losses, BYU is allowing opponents to hit 45% from three. When BYU runs their zone offense, they are seldom closing out fast enough and when they stick to a man-on-man system, guards Brock Zylstra, Matt Carlino, and Craig Cusick are struggling to defend the penetration.
It’s tough to blame losses on just one or two mistakes that were made, but games against Baylor, Utah State, and Loyola Marymount essentially came down to one play. Three point shooting and perimeter defense are only a couple of issues the Cougars are needing to address, but if they can fix those, they will give themselves a chance to go to the Dance.