Anytime you let your chances boil down to one last prayer of a shot at the end of a game, you're letting fate slip out of your own hands and into your opposition. That's exactly what happened this weekend at Illinois, as BYU let its opportunity to win at the United Center in Chicago rest on a half-court shot—which fell out, giving BYU a 75-73 loss.
The Cougars gave themselves a chance to win, but as BYU head coach Dave Rose said post game, they didn't capitalize on the opportunities they were given. "We had a good plan, got behind early, kind of adjusted to everything and found a way to get back into the game,” said Rose, whose Cougars fell to 7-4 overall with the loss. “Then it was time to win the game. We had quite a few chances to take the lead late and that’s what’s kind of disappointing. I feel bad for our guys because they did fight. They fought really hard but the execution didn’t happen late." Here are three reasons the Cougars got their fourth loss.
Lack of transition
Anytime you get 22 assists on more shots, you're asking for trouble. With the manner in which BYU plays its fast paced offense, not creating more opportunities in transition is a recipe for disaster. Consider: guard LJ Rose had yet another solid outing, recording nine assists. But where did the others come from? The answer was from the guard line, exclusively, and that's not the way BYU usually plays basketball. For other teams, that's the recipe for success. But for BYU, who has to get its wings on the break early and often, it's a different story.
In the games during which BYU has pulled off upsets, freshman Yoeli Childs has been a big reason why. But in the games in which BYU has struggled, it usually occurs when Childs has an off night. Scoring just eight points on 3-of-5 from the field, the Bingham High product didn't help his team that often—which meant the one guy who usually steps up for BYU had to carry most of the load inside.
Make It Mika
BYU center Eric Mika has been called upon to do most of the dirty work inside when guys like Childs and Utah State transfer Kyle Davis have off nights. Considering Childs and Davis combined for a measly eight points—from which Davis chipped in zero in three minutes—it was all Mika, all the time in Chicago. In 31 minutes Mika scored 25 points on a very respectable 9-of-12 shooting. But having four fouls to go with those 25 points meant there were stretches in which the Cougars didn't have Mika in the lineup—all of which spells a loss for a BYU team heading into West Coast Conference play.