Breaking Down Baylor’s game winning layup against Mississippi State
Baylor picked up a solid nonconference win with their two point victory over Mississippi State on a neutral court, thanks to a late layup by Pierre Jackson to break the deadlock. MSU had an awful possession after Baylor took the lead, failing to get a shot off and preserving the Baylor win. Baylor did not do anything complicated to get the game winner but Mississippi State failed to rotate to cut off Jackson. Let’s see why.
Quincy Acy sets a ball screen for Jackson but Jackson rejects the screen and drives to the right, as Acy’s defender is shaded toward the center of the court to hedge on the ball screen. Jackson sees a lane to the basket if he goes the opposite way of the ball screen and he is able to burst through the lane before the defense can rotate to cut him off.
The first lack of rotation came from the corner defender, who is guarding Brady Heslip. MSU was focused on preventing Heslip from getting open looks all game, giving up several baskets to other Baylor players as the defense keyed in on Heslip working for the ball. This is shown here, as the defender is focused on not allowing Heslip to get an open shot off penetration, playing right in Heslip’s chest. This is a bad defensive decision at this point in the game, as he leaves a lane open for Jackson to get to the rim. While Heslip is the best shooter on Baylor, the defense should be content to give up a three point shot rather than a layup in this situation. The defender should have been in help position to be able to rotate over to Jackson.
The second poor rotation comes from Rodney Hood, who was guarding Quincy Miller (shown above and below in red). Miller started the play on the right block but cut to the weak side of the court once Acy set up for the ball screen. This opened up the lane for Jackson to drive and also took Hood out of position to help on the drive.
Hood followed Miller too far on his cut, as he shadowed him all the way out of the paint. Hood should have stayed with both feet in the paint, which would have let him slide over to the right side of the rim to challenge Jackson’s shot. Again, the defense should be more concerned with rotating to the ball at this point in the game and giving up a long jump shot. Two MSU defenders failed to do this and it left Jackson with an easy path to the rim.
The defender on Heslip could be forgiven if this was much earlier in the game, as MSU was determined to take him out of the game and not let him get any open looks from beyond the arc. However, at this point, with under a minute in a tie game, the defense has to live with a three point attempt and take away dribble penetration.
Hood’s defense is never acceptable, as he allowed Miller’s movement to take him entirely out of the play by following him until he was out of the paint and too far away to contest the layup. He should have stayed under the rim and rotated back to Miller if the ball was passed to him. Mississippi State had two defenders play poor help defense for the situation and they gave up a way too easy layup to let Baylor walk out with a win.