Cover Photo: WVU Athletics
Entering this two-game Texas road swing, the West Virginia Mountaineers needed to come away with at least one win to significantly improve their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, things didn’t go that well on Saturday as the Mountaineers losing to the No. 5 Texas 94-60. The Longhorns shot 59% from three-point range and took full advantage of their freebies, hitting 24/25 shots at the free throw line. Once again, turnovers plagued the Mountaineers as they threw it away 20 times – the same number of turnovers they had in their first loss to Texas.
Tonight’s opponent, Baylor, defeated WVU 83-78 in Morgantown last month in what turned out to be a free throw shooting contest as the teams combined for 69 shots at the line. Because of it, each team put up 50+ points in the second half alone. The Bears managed that one thanks to a solid start and 44.2 percent shooting. Baylor has put itself in position to fight for the Big 12 regular season title down the stretch this season after winning nine of its last 10 games. The Bears avenged an early-January loss to TCU by pulling off a comeback win on Saturday, as veteran guard Adam Flagler scored a game-high 28 points and LJ Cryer added 23. Keyonte George, who leads Baylor with 16.9 points per game, was held to a season-low four points on 2 of 8 shooting. The Bears have been fantastic against quality opponents over the last four years, going 26-9 against top 25 teams during that stretch, with 16 of those wins coming on the road.
This is a trap game on Baylor’s schedule, as it is coming off the big road win at TCU and has a road game at Kansas looming later this week. Outside of its loss to Texas, West Virginia has been in good form, winning four of its five games prior to that loss. The Mountaineers picked up a road win at Texas Tech and added a pair of wins over ranked opponents (Auburn, Iowa State) during that stretch. Senior guard Erik Stevenson leads West Virginia with 14.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Tre Mitchell (11.5), Kedrian Johnson (10.4) and Joe Toussaint (10.1) are each scoring in double figures as well. The Mountaineers were competitive in their first meeting with Baylor, losing by five points after giving up a second-half lead in that contest.
I don’t like what I saw from the Mountaineers on Saturday and I don’t foresee them looking much better with very little rest just two days later against yet another ranked team. Baylor is 7-2-1 ATS over their last ten games and have won nine of those games. I’m always hoping for the best, but it looks like changes are much needed in order to ensure our success.