BYU got a whole lot better today with the addition of Matt Carlino.
Anson Winder and Craig Cusick had done what we thought was a good job. Until we saw Carlino.
In his BYU debut Carlino scored 18 points and added another scoring facet to the Cougars offense.
Unfortunately it wasn't enough to take down a very good Baylor team.
BYU led by 13 points in the first half, out-rebounded the Bears 26 to 12 and threw down dunk after dunk scoring 16 points in the paint to Baylor's 8.
They looked like...well, Baylor.
Baylor crept back into into the game a finally took the lead with 10:22 left in the second half on a Perry Jones III jumper.
There was a scary moment for Baylor fans when with 1:26 left Jones III went down, writhing on the floor in pain. He was on the floor for five minutes, on the bench for 17 seconds and back on the court for the last minute of the game to the relief of the Baylor faithful.
Turnovers, missed opportunities on key Baylor turnovers and a Baylor offense that couldn't miss eventually led the Bears to a 86-83 win in front of 20,000 Cougar fans.
That, and one of the worst calls we will see all year when Pierre Jackson bounced the ball off his leg out of bounds. The referee called it out on Matt Carlino and heard about it from the Cougar fans. The Bears turned it into three on one of Brady Heslip's many three-pointers.
With a final chance to tie the game Charles Abouo charged down the court and passed the ball out for a three from...Brandon Davies?
To Abouo's credit, NOBODY expected that. To Baylor's credit they sat back and scratched their backsides for several seconds while Davies wound up from the floor and then calmly blocked the shot to seal the game.
Although Baylor came in with heralded length and size, BYU out-rebounded Baylor by 13 and scored 41 points in the paint to Baylor's 24.
That stat will be an important one later in the year, especially considering that two of BYU's big men were on the bench in Chris Collinsworth and Stephen Rogers.
BYU did not lose this game, Baylor just took it. Baylor is an incredible basketball team and BYU played them to the wire. WCC teams will watch this game and worry.
While BYU's point guard play has been acceptable, Matt Carlino is going to be a leader and fast. His smooth shot, ball handling skills and confident passes are going to oil the BYU machine and will only make it better.
With the addition of Carlino, BYU is still finding their identity. BYU should be proud of their performance today against one of the best teams in the country.