BYU men's basketball vs. SUU

BYU guard Zac Seljaas goes up for a layup during the Cougar game against Southern Utah at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.

Common sense basketball would dictate that the closer you are to the basket, the more likely you will make a shot.

Yeah, right.

The 3-pointer rules in college hoops and the BYU men’s team utilizes the triple as much as anyone.

Through the first five games of the 2019-20 season, the Cougars are shooting a respectable 36% (43 of 115) from beyond the arc. But inside the arc — yes, closer to the orange hoop and the net – BYU is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, shooting just 90 of 193 (47%).

For a team with little inside presence that relies on its shooting, that’s no beuno.

By comparison, the Cougars’ opponents are 21 of 82 (26%) from the 3-point line and 109 of 215 (51%) from inside the arc.

Take BYU’s overtime loss to Boise State last week, for example.

Jake Toolson led BYU with 19 points, making 7 of 20 from the field. He was 2 of 4 from the 3-point line, which means he shot just 5 of 16 (31%) on numerous opportunities in the paint.

This from a guy who was a 50-40-90 guy (field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, free throw percentage) while winning the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year award last season at Utah Valley.

You’d have to think he’ll get better at making some of the those closer shots.

Sophomore big man Kolby Lee — BYU’s only true post player while Yoeli Childs serves his nine-game NCAA suspension — is just 12 of 29 (41%) on his 2-point shots this season. In addition, senior guard T.J. Haws is off to a slow start and has made just 4 of 24 (17%) from the 3-point line.

It’s early and things will obviously change for the Cougars when Childs makes his season debut against Utah on Dec. 4.

But in two close losses (San Diego State and Boise State) a few makes in the painted area could have made a huge difference.

This is the fourth time BYU has made the trip to the islands for the Maui Classic. The Cougars last played there in 2014, which featured a pair of close losses to San Diego State and Purdue sandwiched around one of the greatest shooting performances in BYU history by Chase Fisher. The West Virginia native made a school-record 10 3-pointers.

Three Cougars — Toolson, Dalton Nixon and Alex Barcello — have been to Maui on previous occasions. Nixon and Toolson went with BYU in 2014 and Barcello for Arizona last season.

Good news

By the time BYU is through with the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, there will be only one more game for Childs to sit out (Montana Tech).

Scouting Report

BYU’s first opponent in the Maui Invitational is UCLA. The Bruins were sailing along just fine in the preseason, beating Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, UNLV and Southern Utah. Then mighty Hofstra came to Pauley Pavilion last Thursday and came away with a shocking 88-78 victory behind a career-high 29 points from Desure Buie and 27 from Jalen Ray.

Jalen Hill turned in a double-double for the Bruins (24 points, 12 rebounds) but UCLA was just 6 of 22 (27%) from the 3-point line. Hill – a 6-foot-10 sophomore — will be a problem for the smallish Cougars as will slick freshman guard Tyger Campbell.

Former Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin is in his first year in Westwood.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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