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Brigham Young University took to the road for a road game against Baylor and is coming home for the holidays after a 79-64 loss drops its record to 8-4 on the season.
The Cougars were led by senior forward Brandon Davies, who finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds, while sophomore guard Tyler Haws finished with 13 points and four rebounds.
While Davies and Haws led the Cougars in scoring again, the highest scorer after those two for BYU was Nate Austin and Matt Carlino with eight points. Haws and Davies' teammates combined for 25 points on 11 of 29 shooting. The Cougars have struggled all season to find additional scoring outside of Haws and Davies, with Brock Zylstra second on the team in scoring with seven points per game.
The first half exemplified the two-player offense that BYU has. The game plan had the ball going to Haws and Davies in the post and letting them work one-on-one against their defender. The first 15 points of the game came through Haws and Davies until a layup by Austin.
Haws sat with 9:24 left in the game after picking up his second foul, and the Bears responded by closing the half with a 23-8 run.
Two points for BYU over the final eight minutes of the half turned a 10-point lead into a nine-point deficit. The Cougars had 12 turnovers and fouls in the eight-minute span, with the Bears repeatedly denying open looks at the rim on defense.
BYU shot 41.9 percent in the first half, four points below its season average in road games. BYU was not able to make many shots outside of the paint, with 24 points coming near the basket. With four free throws and one three-point shot made, BYU missed all 18 of its shots launched from outside the paint.
The inability to score continued during the first half. It took BYU 11:30 to reach 39 points, and it took the Cougars nearly 20 field goal attempts to reach that mark. Baylor pulled away during that mark, scoring 33 points over that span to open the game up and gain a lead that would ultimately determine the winner.
The Cougars' defense helped close the gap slightly during the second half, forcing the Bears into five straight missed shots for a 9-0 BYU run, with the Bears calling timeout with the score at 68-54.
Haws went ice cold in the second half, missing all five of his attempts with one turnover. The absence of an outside shooter meant a large amount of pressure near the rim on defense, closing up space for Davies.
Baylor also was able to use its size advantage inside and the attention given to Isaiah Austin to find space from the perimeter. The Bears finished the game with a 50 percent mark on 3-point attempts on 9 of 18 attempts, while the Cougars only managed to convert one 3-point shot.
While the game offered some positive lessons to be learned, the Cougars will need to find another scoring option after Christmas as they prepare to enter conference play with their first game in the West Coast Conference against Loyola Marymount on Jan. 3 after a game against Northern Arizona and Virginia Tech.
Matt Carlino has been asked to be the third scoring option at times this season. However, in the four BYU losses, Carlino has scored a total of 22 points on 29.4 percent shooting. Carlino averaged 12.2 points in 25 games last season, but his scoring average is down to 7.2 points this season, with an effective field goal percentage of 44 percent, down from last season as well.
If the Cougars want to make a run for the West Coast Conference title, they are going to need improved play from their young point guard. He certainly can learn from Pierre Jackson, the speedy Baylor guard who scored 16 points and had nine assists.
BYU falls to 1-4 when failing to score more than 70 points, with the lone win coming at home against the University of Utah.
BYU has six days off over the holidays until its next game at home against Northern Arizona University.
Daniel Lewis is an intern with KSL.com, and covers BYU men's basketball. He is currently attending Brigham Young University, earning a degree in communications.