By Giana Pirolli | Sports Writer
Facing off against West Virginia University was no easy feat for the Bears, especially in Mountaineer territory. It’s been almost a year since the two teams played each other in Morgantown, where WVU upset then No. 1 Baylor 89-68.
Baylor knew what to expect from “Press Virginia.” The No. 2 ranked Mountaineers hold the longest winning streak in the nation at 15 after their 57-54 win over the Bears and have their highest ranking since 1959. West Virginia also came in to its matchup with Baylor after an 89-76 win over then No. 7 Oklahoma.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said he thought the team had the right mind set heading into tonight’s game.
“You have no choice when you play West Virginia. You come to compete or you get embarrassed. We came, we competed, left it all out on the court,” Drew said. “We came up short, and we needed to take care of the ball better.”
In a sold-out game, where West Virginia was the heavy favorite, Baylor was not afraid of the challenge.
Baylor led for the majority of the first half, and it wasn’t until 1:56 to go in the first half that the Mountaineers tied the score at 26. Each added a three-pointer in the final two minutes as the teams headed into intermission tied at 29.
West Virginia sophomore forward Lamont West’s jumper gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the game at 31-29. West Virginia was able to extend its lead to four points at 46-42, but Baylor continued to battle, tying the game for a final time at 49 after freshman forward Tristan Clark’s two free throws.
Carter delivered the dagger to Baylor, first knocking down a contested three-pointer to put the Mountaineers up 54-51. After West Virginia hit one of two from the free throw line, junior guard Jake Lindsey nailed a three from the corner to cut the lead to one at 55-54, but it was Carter who calmly knocked down two more free throws to seal the deal. Baylor had one final opportunity, but senior guard Manu Lecomte’s tying shot missed long.
Lecomte led the way for Baylor with 13 points and played good defense, limiting reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year West to only 12 points.
Senior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. recorded his eighth double-double of the season, tallying 11 points and 10 rebounds and helped lead Baylor to win the rebounding battle 44-36.
Baylor also held West Virginia to its lowest scoring outcome of the season by limiting the Mountaineers to just 31 percent from the floor.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said it neither team played their best, but that happens in the style of the Big 12.
“Neither team shot the ball very well. And when that happens, it’s kind of an ugly game,” Huggins said. “I think both teams are capable of scoring the ball. Both of us just had bad games. You have to grind it out. I felt pretty good at the end.”
The Bears had a total of 21 turnovers against WVU. In the last two games, Baylor has committed a total of 36 turnovers, which has hurt the Bears as they stumble now to 1-3 in Big 12 play.
Baylor (11-5, 1-3) plays at Iowa State at 2 p.m. Saturday while WVU plays No. 8 Texas Tech 1 p.m. Saturday in Lubbock.