No. 15 Baylor falls to No. 14 West Virginia 80-69
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Poor shooting in the second half cost No. 15 Baylor a chance to turn the top of the Big 12 standings into a tossup.
The Bears went cold after halftime and that allowed No. 14 West Virginia to pull away for an 80-69 win Saturday night.
“They forced us into bad shots,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, noting that seniors Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince and Lester Medford shot 8 of 37 from the floor.
West Virginia helped neutralize Rico Gathers, the only Big 12 player averaging a double-double in points and rebounds.
Gathers, who averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds in three games against the Mountaineers a year ago, was held to five points on 1-of-9 shooting Saturday.
“We didn’t do a very good job getting Rico the ball enough,” Drew said. “A lot of his shots came off of offensive rebounds, so now you’ve got two or three guys around you.”
Instead of forging a five-way tie for first place, Baylor let West Virginia (19-4, 8-2 Big 12) take over sole possession at the top after No. 1 Oklahoma lost at Kansas State 80-69 earlier Saturday. The Sooners fell into a second-place tie with No. 7 Kansas and Texas at 7-3. Baylor and Iowa State are at 6-4.
“When you have what everybody else wants, you have a whole bunch of people trying to get it,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
Daxter Miles Jr. scored a season-high 20 points for West Virginia, which finally found a way to beat Baylor (17-6, 6-4) after four straight losses to the Bears going back two years.
Jaysean Paige added 17 points, Devin Williams scored 16 and Nathan Adrian had 11 points and nine rebounds.
King McClure and Ishmail Wainright had 11 points apiece while Prince and Terry Maston had 10 each for Baylor.
Baylor scored one basket over the first five minutes of the second half and West Virginia extended a nine-point halftime lead to 51-36 on Miles’ 3-pointer.
Ahmad blocked Gathers’ layup attempt, Miles hit a 3-pointer at the other end and Williams followed with a jumper from the top of the key to give West Virginia its largest lead, 62-43, with 9:28 left.
That’s when Drew took Gathers and Prince out of the game.
“I was looking for some offense and defense,” Drew said. “I think our bench really played well and did a great job getting us back in the game.”
Baylor made it interesting down the stretch. McClure’s 3-pointer sandwiched around layups by Al Freeman and Maston pulled Baylor within 68-58 with 3:25 left. Wainright’s 3-pointer made it 74-67 with a minute left, but the Bears got no closer.
The lead changed six times in the opening 10 minutes and neither team led by more than five points until Miles and Tarik Phillip each hit 3-pointers and Adrian sank two free throws to put West Virginia ahead 38-29 at halftime.
Baylor: The Bears had beaten West Virginia by an average of 11 points in their three previous visits to Morgantown. ... Baylor shot just 33 percent (12 of 36) from the floor in the second half and had a three-game road winning streak snapped.
West Virginia: Capped a strong week after beating Iowa State on the road on Tuesday. The Mountaineers improved to 3-2 against ranked opponents this season. ... Miles has shot 11 of 17 from the floor in his last two games after going 11 of 39 in six games before that. ... West Virginia committed eight turnovers, its lowest in Big 12 play this season.
West Virginia forward Jonathan Holton sat out his third straight game. He was suspended a week ago for an undisclosed violation of team rules and Huggins said after the game he wasn’t sure when Holton would return. Adrian started in his place Saturday.
Baylor: At Kansas State on Wednesday.
West Virginia: At No. 7 Kansas on Tuesday.