BYU started with a bang and then faded late against a very good Wichita St. team. It was a tale of two halves in Kansas City as BYU and hot shooting guard Matt Carlino jumped out to a 21-8 lead over the nationally ranked Shockers. That lead was whittled down to 2 by half time as the cold shooting Cougars rode Carlino's hot hand through the first half.
Freshman Center Eric Mika and fellow big man Nate Austin struggled with foul trouble and Tyler Haws again struggled to find is shot. The Shockers controlled the pace of play and forced BYU into a half court game which really caused the offense to stall and the team to take some very poor shots.
The teams traded punches through most of the second half as the momentum tilted back and forth. BYU's Tyler Haws never really got on track as he was hounded all night by the Shockers defenders. Matt Carlino was ice cold in the 2nd half as he could not get a single shot to fall.
The Wichita St. defense clamped down on him and forced other Cougars to beat them. Unfortunately, tonight Carlino's teammates really struggled to make shots and this cost them down the stretch.
Late in the game as Wichita State started to pull away things got a little ugly. Nate Austin delivered an elbow to the head of Shocker's forward Ron Baker in what was determined to be a flagrant 2 foul which led to his ejection from the game. Shortly after that BYU coach Dave Rose was given a technical for arguing with the officiating crew.
The cold reality is that BYU did not score a field goal in the last 8:43 of the game. You cannot have droughts like that if you want to beat a team the caliber of Wichita State.
Matt Carlino paced BYU with 21 points on 7 of 19 shooting in a losing effort. The real story was the poor play of Eric Mika. The heralded freshman big man tallied only 1 rebound and was saddled with foul trouble throughout the game. Ron Baker paced the Shockers with 23 points and a massive headache from Nate Austin's elbow late in the game.
This was the second missed opportunity in a week for the Cougars to beat a nationally ranked opponent. Their lack of depth at forward and center combined their inability to make shots cost them this contest. Let's hope the Cougars can rebound this Saturday against in-state rival Utah State who remains unbeaten.