I have no idea what to make of this Baylor team. They struggle running their offense, but have enough talent they almost get away with it. Take Thursday's game against Washington State. Baylor struggled out of the gate before finishing the half down by 13. Then with 14 minutes to go the Bears find their mojo--more specifically LaceDarius Dunn and Perry Jones III find their mojo. Over the next seven minutes the Bears would score on 13-15 possessions: Jones went 3-3 from the field for seven; Dunn went 4-5 from the field (going a perfect 10-10 from the line) for 21 points; and A.J. Walton added two. Quincy Acy missed a two, and LaceDarius Dunn missed a three. The team overall went 8-10 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the arc. Considering the talent on Scott Drew's team, that's how I expect them to play 25 or 30 minutes a game--not seven. They wiped out an 18 point deficit in seven minutes. The rest of the game was absolutely hideous: after factoring out the huge run the Bears shot 14-50 (28%) from the field, including 1-18 (5.6%) from three. What happened?
Ignoring shooting, the Bears totally dominated the box score. They slaughtered the Cougars on the offensive glass, pulling down 18 offensive boards (largely thanks to the huge number of missed shots) to the Cougars 5. They shot 80% from the charity stripe and didn't turn the ball over excessively.
There's a very valid argument that the Bears shouldn't be ranked in the top 25: they don't have anything resembling a marquee win; they've lost two out of three; and they look lost on offense for a lot of most games. But that seven minute stretch against Washington State is why I refuse to give up on this team. I think as the year progresses, Dunn and Jones will put their teammates on their backs down the stretch. Combine a ruthless offensive duo with a capable third option and unbelievable rebounding and you have a recipe for success, even with a middling point guard.
Tomorrow the Bears get another chance to notch a decent win when they go take on Florida State (a team with even more offensive struggles). If Baylor has point guard issues, Florida State has point guard catastrophes. The Seminoles have been totally unable to get in anything resembling an offensive flow at all this season. While they dominate games defensively, the only consistent scoring threat is Chris Singleton (who may be the best defender in the country). But Singleton seems far more concerned with showcasing his NBA range than running an efficient offense, so he spends most of his time patrolling the perimeter.
But expect Singleton to lock LaceDarius Dunn down most of the game. I expect him to guard Dunn and maybe Jones depending on Florida State's lineup, so this will be an important test to see if Scott Drew's squad can get it done on the offensive end without much assistance from Dunn. Perry Jones and Quincy Acy will really need to step up (and Walton will need to show some ability to handle the pressure).
The game is at 5:30 PM on ESPN2.