By Shehan Jeyarajah
Junior forward Rico Gathers is out to prove that he is not only one of the best rebounders in the Big 12, but one of the best players in the country.
Gathers posted 17 points and 16 rebounds, five Baylor players scored in double-figures and No. 19 Baylor basketball dominated No. 15 West Virginia 87-69 in Morgantown, W.Va.
Baylor dominated the game almost from the opening tip. The Mountaineers went up 3-2 after a free throw, but the Bears scored 21 unanswered points over an eight-minute stretch to lead 23-3 with 11:25 left in the first half. Gathers had four points and five rebounds over the stretch and finished the first half with a double-double.
West Virginia never got within 14 from that point on.
The No. 15 Mountainers shot only 36.4 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from the three-point line. Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Juwan Staten was held to only six points of 2-for-7 shooting. Outside of Devin Williams, the numbers go down to 32 percent from the field.
Senior forward Royce O’Neale and junior forward Taurean Prince each finished with 15 points and freshman guard Al Freeman added 11 on 4-for-6 shooting. Senior point guard Kenny Chery was the other player in double-figures with 11.
With the win, Baylor moves to 5-1 in program history against West Virginia, including an undefeated 3-0 in Morgantown. The Bears have also won three games in a row during Big 12 play for the first time this season. The streak features two wins over opponents ranked higher than Baylor at the time (then-No. 19 Texas, No. 15 West Virginia) and the Bears have an average margin of victory of 20.3 points per game.
Baylor will not have much time to celebrate the win; Oklahoma State comes to the Ferrell Center on Monday in search of a season sweep of the Bears. The game will take place at 6 p.m. in Waco.