carlino

Regardless of his position, BYU needs to get Matt Carlino untracked

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Pegged by many as the team most likely to challenge Gonzaga atop the West Coast Conference, the BYU Cougars have struggled mightily of late. Losers of four in a row and five of their last six games, Dave Rose’s team has encountered issues on both ends of the floor. Offensively the Cougars have shot 15-for-56 (26.8%) from beyond the arc, and defensively they’ve given up at least 1.09 points per possession during their current losing streak.

As a result, BYU finds itself 8-7 overall (0-2 WCC) and essentially in the same position they were in last season: unless they go on a serious run, their NCAA tournament hopes will come down to whether or not they can win the WCC’s automatic bid come March. Given the talent on the roster hope isn’t lost, with Tyler Haws averaging 22.0 points per game and leading four Cougars scoring in double figures.

But if BYU is to turn things around, beginning with their WCC home opener against San Diego on Saturday, they have to get junior guard Matt Carlino going.

Carlino’s averaging 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game this season, but over the last four contests he’s accounted for just 9.8 points and 1.8 assists. As a scoring point guard Carlino’s going to be aggressive offensively, but his struggles of late as both a distributor and scorer have resulted in fewer minutes at the point with Kyle Collinsworth being asked to do more. In BYU’s loss at Pepperdine on Monday night Carlino played just 19 minutes, and that has led to questions about what position he’ll play.

Will Carlino remain at the point? Or will he shift over to the off-guard position? Regardless of the answer, it’s clear that BYU needs Carlino to get going and their three straight league home games could serve as a catalyst. And as noted by Jason Franchuk of the Provo Daily Herald, how Carlino adjusts could have a significant impact on the Cougars’ hopes for the remainder of this season.

Carlino sounds like he has buyers’ remorse out of something purchased for him, and how he handles the situation (and vice versa with coaches) may say a lot about whether a turnaround is coming, or this season is doomed.

“I think the thing for me is I didn’t know how different it would be from the point, playing the two,” Carlino said. “And I think you can see it out there if you watch. It has just been difficult for me because I haven’t been performing the way I want to. I think it has a lot to do with how I have prepared to play the point this whole time, and then you get thrown into a new role and it is kind of like you got to catch up on the fly.”

Saturday’s game at the Marriott Center matches two teams in search of answers and their first conference win of the season, with San Diego also struggling of late. With that being the case BYU will need a focused Carlino, regardless of his position on the floor.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.