Gimpy, broken, and by many accounts overrated, BYU (10 seed) limped into Milwaukee and was simply overmatched in their opening round matchup with Oregon (7 seed). BYU took this same Oregon team to overtime earlier in the year, but this game held very little resemblance to the earlier meeting. Suspect defense, poor shooting, and an opportunistic Duck squad used a 31-12 run in the last 11 minutes to thwart all hopes of a BYU upset. A Matt Carlino 3 pointer cut the Duck lead to 56-53 with 12:03 left in the game. Momentum seemed to be going BYU’s way!
It was at that exact point that BYU seemed to head for the locker room, though. The Ducks could do no wrong over the final twelve minutes and what was left was a lead that grew as high as 25 before the game ended at 87-68. In the words of Ron Burgundy, “That really escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast!”
Was the result a surprise? Not really. If you had BYU picked in your bracket, I sure hope that it was out of optimism and sheer team loyalty that could cause such a decision. I was honestly surprised to see BYU only a 5-point underdog in the game. When Doug Gottlieb called the Vegas line “easy money” for those betting on the game, I was tempted to stand right up and place my bet as well.
This was a team that seemed to both under and overachieve all year. Wins over Texas and Stanford, plus close losses to Oregon and Wichita State, showed the kind of team BYU at least appeared capable of being. Star Tyler Haws had multiple 30+ point games, including a national season high 48 points. But this NCAA Tourney game seemed to more closely resemble the losses to LMU, Pacific, and Pepperdine where poor defense and cold shooting allowed opponents to pull away from otherwise close games and pull off big victories.
Tyler Haws led BYU with 19 and Matt Carlino chipped in 15, but those were really the only eggs in BYU’s basket coming in after the season ending ACL injury to scrapper Kyle Collinsworth in the WCC Championship game. Two nights ago I predicted that Haws would need to go for 40 and Carlino would need to chip in another 20 for BYU to have a prayer. Throughout the afternoon both really struggled to get into much of a rhythm. When your top offensive threats combine to shoot 33% from the field, you’re in big trouble.
On a positive note, BYU graduates no players. An offseason together to practice and improve, plus the (hopeful) return of Kyle Collinsworth should bring a more experienced team back for 2014-15. To be honest, that prospect doesn’t excite me much. Throughout the season there just seemed to always be a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle for the Cougars. Those missing pieces were exemplified in Milwaukee Thursday afternoon and will hopefully be on the mind of Coach Dave Rose entering the long off season.