7 Points In 28 Seconds
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That was basically the game. I'm not saying we would have won if Baylor went scoreless in those 28 seconds, but that was what put the game away. Someone somewhere took a quick bathroom back with 8:45 remaining and Illinois trailing 56-51 and they returned from the bathroom to find us down 12. That had to be an all-time what-did-I-miss?
Here's that part of the official box score:
08:32 BAY - 51-58 Made Layup By BAY #0 Thamba, Flo On The Fast Break
08:32 BAY - Assist By BAY #10 Flagler, Adam
08:32 ILL - Personal Foul On ILL #5 Curbelo, Andre; Shooting Foul.
08:32 BAY - Missed Free Throw By BAY #0 Thamba, Flo (1OF1)
08:31 BAY - Offensive Rebound By BAY #45 Mitchell, Davion
08:20 BAY - 51-61 Made Second-Chance 3PT Stepback Jumper By BAY #45 Mitchell, Davion
08:07 ILL - Lostball Turnover By ILL #20 Williams, Da'monte
08:07 BAY - Steal By BAY #24 Mayer, Matthew
08:04 BAY - 51-63 Made Layup By BAY #31 Teague, Macio On The Fast Break Off An Opponent Turnover
At 08:32, down by 5. By 08:04 down by 12. Ballgame.
Again, even before that Baylor burst you could feel the game slipping away. They had been the better team with better defense but we were right there, mostly thanks to Giorgi. So without that, maybe Baylor wins 77-73 or something. But with that Baylor burst, ballgame.
I still have the box score open and it's fairly ugly. OK, really ugly. Baylor is the best defense we'll face all season, but still, there's a lot of WERF here:
- Kofi played only 17 minutes and had 7 points and 4 rebounds.
- Ayo shot 6-18.
- Miller was 2-11 including 0-6 from three.
- Trent 8 points, 5 turnovers.
And perhaps the worst stat, as Underwood pointed out in the postgame press conference:
Baylor offensive rebounds: 16
Kofi and Giorgi defensive rebounds combined: 4
Aaand... scene. The shooting was bad, but really, it's all right there in that stat. Kofi and Giorgi played 42 minutes and 9 seconds and grabbed four missed Baylor shots.
It's funny: this was billed as 1st-team All American vs. 1st-team All American. And then both Ayo and Jared Butler shot 6-18 from the field (Ayo scored 18, Butler 12). The difference? Baylor's bench stepped up (Flagler 18 points, Mayer 7 points 7 rebounds, that guy with the really long name who I'll just call JTT had 9 points and 9 rebounds) and that handed them the win.
I think they're definitely a top-5 team. We're... not yet. We have the pieces to get there, and the flashes we saw from Curbelo tonight combined with the flashes we saw from Miller last week are quite exciting to think about once they both have a dozen games under their belt, but we're just not a top-5 team yet. (And that's probably OK.)
Really, given the stats, I'm surprised it was as close as it was. Ayo was 6-18 and Miller was 2-11 so that's two starting guards missing 21 of 29 shots. Tell me before the game that Ayo and Miller will shoot 8-29 and Kofi will be in foul trouble and only put up 7 & 4 and I would have guessed we would have been down 13 at halftime with Baylor emptying the bench at the 5:00 mark. We did some good things and hung right in there.
But then Baylor scored 7 points in 28 seconds and put the game away.
+ Since I got to be there tonight, I feel like I should try to describe what it was like inside the building.
For starters, the Illinois game was twice as loud as the Gonzaga-West Virginia game. This was mostly due to the Ohio bench.
The Ohio bench set the tone for the game on Friday and they rode that energy from start to finish, nearly knocking off the Illini. Well, from the opening tip tonight, the Illinois bench started the "dee-fense (clap-clap)" cheer (just like Ohio did). And that led the Baylor bench to get loud, even bringing out the same "dee-fense" cheer later on. Gonzaga and West Virginia? Their benches would cheer at a made basket or a stop and then go quiet. Baylor and Illinois? Noise start to finish. Or, at least, noise start to Baylor going up 16 in the second half.
Other than that, it's just really bizarre to see a game between top-5 schools be so energy-less. I couldn't help but think how many Illini fans would have made the trip. Indianapolis is a long way from Baylor, so I feel like the fans would have been heavily orange and blue. Like, 10-to-1 ratio.
Of course, if there was no Covid, this game would have been played in Florida as it was originally scheduled. And it would have been Rutgers-Baylor, as it was originally scheduled. So forgive my imagination here.
Let's see, what else...
I guess the biggest difference is hearing one guy say one thing to one player during a quiet moment. Orlando Antigua wants to tell Ayo that he's on Butler now? You can hear it plain as day "Ayo, you have 12". Andre Curbelo loses his guy and gets into the lane? You could hear some Illini walkon say "nice, Belo". And that's me in the upper deck at the end, super-socially-distanced away from any player or coach, hearing that plain as day. Down on the court, it's like a high school game in a mostly-empty gym.
+ Twas nice to see 2019 Giorgi again. Welcome back. If we can get Kofi and Giorgi firing together, that's an engine that can really make this team go. I needed to toss some positivity in there because...
+ Time for some fear and worry.
Missouri beat #21 Oregon tonight on a neutral court. They've climbed from 60 to 46 in KenPom, we've fallen from 16 to 24. So now I'm really worried about an 0-3 stretch in these three "high major" non-conference games. We just lost the one on the neutral court and the other two are away games. We'll beat Tennessee Martin but worst-case-scenario 4-3 non-conference (and falling out of the top-25) is going to keep me up tonight.
Now, we can just as easily beat Duke and Missouri and enter the Big Ten schedule #7 with a loss to #2 (or #1). So I'm not tossing out a prediction. I'm simply letting my worry brain speak. Missouri is better than I thought, and I doubt Duke loses two straight at home, so I'm frightened of 4-3 and unranked while Iowa is #3. Make the bad thoughts stop.
+ Adam Miller against North Carolina A&T and Chicago State: 8-13 from three.
Adam Miller against Ohio and Baylor: 0-10 from three.
I hear defense matters.
+ At this point I just really want the Duke game to get here (no media allowed, so I'll be watching that one on my couch). Beat Duke and I don't have to worry about any of the things I'm worrying about right now. This is the kind of game (especially against #2) you can quickly chalk up to "everyone had an off night at the same time".
So I'm going to go to sleep with positive thoughts in my head. Baylor is really good, and Baylor beat us down in the second half. Let's quickly put that aside and focus on what we all wanted here: 1-1 in the Baylor and Duke games. Do that and I'll continue thinking about hanging that Big Ten Champs banner. And then really focus on a deep Tournament run.
Putting this one behind me. Beat Duke.