Pierre Jackson: Baylor’s Unlikely Answer in the Clutch

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 29th, 2011

On a team with pre-season All American Perry Jones III, senior Quincy Acy, and heralded freshman Quincy Miller (one of the nation’s most talked about frontlines), Baylor relied on 5’10” junior college transfer Pierre Jackson to beat Mississippi State on Wednesday night. Beating the Bulldogs did not come easily as the Bears struggled to find their shooting stroke in the midst of a defensive slugfest. The #5 team in the country shot 21.4% from the field in the last 20 minutes, but somehow, Baylor found a way to win. The Bears found Jackson.

Pierre Jackson goes up for two to win the game for Baylor (Credit: AP photo/Matt Strasen)

Jackson started out the game with 10 points on four of six shooting, but would miss his first six shots of the second half including a layup that would have tied the game with 2:25 on the clock. Even after his poor start in the last twenty minutes of the game, he wasn’t afraid to have the ball in his hands with under a minute to play and a tie ball game. Neither was his coach.

“A lot of players wouldn’t have the guts to take the last shot or make the last play,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said after the game. “He got to the hole and finished it, and I think that shows his heart and his courage.”

Jackson displayed lightning speed on his way to the basket for the game-winner, but credits his teammates with helping him get there. “Quincy Acy set a great screen,” Jackson said. “Mississippi State played the screen instead of the ball, so I had a wide-open lane. [I] got a good look, and put it up.”

The 5’11” guard led Baylor with 14 points on the night while adding three assists and three rebounds. But Jackson’s leadership and poised play coming off the bench was no surprise to Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. “People can talk about (Perry) Jones and those other guys all they want, but Jackson is the reason Baylor is so good,” Stansbury said. “(He) is the key to their team. He’s the guy that makes them go.”

Speaking of Baylor’s talented 6’11” big man, Jones struggled to find his way, finishing 4-13 from the field. He managed just eight points and six rebounds in 36 minutes, often disappearing for long stretches in what turned out to be a physical game in the low post. Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie grabbed 10 rebounds, frustrating Jones and Acy with his presence in the post. Jackson’s backcourt mate, Brady Heslip, contributed 11 first half points on 3-4 three point field goals, but missed on his only two attempts from the field in the second half.

Despite the shooting struggles, Baylor came out with the win and prepared itself for the long term. “Both teams treated it like an NCAA Tournament game, so I am very proud on how the team responded down the stretch,” Drew said. And down the stretch is where Jackson shines. Baylor’s last two games have each been decided by two points. In both, the ball went to Jackson for the final shot. And in both, Baylor came out victorious.

In a year where shaky backcourt play was felt to be potential Achilles’ heel for Baylor, Pierre Jackson has risen to the challenge. If there was a question as to whether or not Jackson could lead this team, the answer is now clear. Jackson has proven to be the go-to-guy for Baylor down the stretch. With the Bears on their best start in school history with 13 wins to begin this season, it seems everyone in Waco will be comfortable with him continuing to take the big shots down the stretch.

Brian Joyce (333 Posts)

Brian Joyce is an advanced metrics enthusiast, college hoops junkie, and writer for the SEC basketball microsite for Rush the Court.

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