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Desperate Mountaineers Look to Gain Traction in Series with Bears

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Coming off another loss, the Moutaineers will jump right back into Big 12 play with a ‘Big Monday’ matchup at No. 8 Baylor. 

West Virginia (13-7, 2-5 Big 12), traveled down to Waco, Texas after their 77-68 loss to Arkansas on Saturday. Baylor (18-3, 6-2 Big 12), is also coming off a loss in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday. The No. 8 ranked Bears lost to Alabama 87-78, so they’ll be ready to play on their home floor again. 

In the series, WVU has gone 3-5 in games in Waco since 2013. The Bears and Mountaineers did not meet last season at Baylor’s arena, as the game was postponed, then cancelled due to COVID-19.  

Let’s take a look back at the two best games the Mountaineers have played in Waco. 

2013-2014 (66-64 WVU) 

In a year where WVU missed the NCAA Tournament, the Mountaineers were still a talented team with Juwan Staten, Terry Henderson, and Eron Harris. WVU was trying to keep winning games to try to get onto the NCAA bubble, while Baylor was struggling mightily in Big 12 conference play. 

WVU jumped out to an early lead but saw their seven-point lead slim down to a three-point lead in the final minute of the first half.  

The Mountaineers got off to a good start in the second half, as Eron Harris made a three-pointer to give WVU a six-point lead. Baylor answered right away with a Brady Heslip three-pointer to show they wouldn’t go easily. 

The teams exchanged buckets across the early stages of the second half, but Baylor would crawl back in. Midway through the second half, Corey Jefferson made a jumper to tie the game at 47-47. 

After a WVU timeout, the Mountaineers immediately regained the lead when Terry Henderson knocked down a three-pointer. On the ensuing possession, Baylor’s Kenny Chery matched Henderson’s shot with a three-pointer of his own to tie the game at 50-50. 

WVU gained the lead and extended the lead to six points with free throws and layups. After a Rico Gathers layup for Baylor, WVU’s Remi Dibo came in and made a three-pointer to extend the lead to 60-53 with 6:21 to play. Right after Dibo’s three, Baylor’s Kenny Chery made another three-pointer to make it a 60-56 game. Remi Dibo went down and made another jumper, this time from two-point range to give WVU a 62-56 lead. 

Baylor cut WVU’s lead to four points with a pair of free throws with 3:23 left. After the Baylor free throws, the game did not see points for another two minutes of play. With 1:09 left, Baylor’s Brady Heslip made a huge three-pointer to make it a 64-63 ballgame. 

With 49 seconds left, Baylor fouled Juwan Staten. Staten went to the line, and surprisingly missed both free throws. With 36 seconds to play, Baylor’s big man Rico Gathers got fouled. Gathers missed the first shot but made the second and tied the game at 64-64.  

With the game in his hands, Juwan Staten held for a shot in the final seconds. Staten drove the ball to the baseline and made a left-handed reverse layup with three seconds left. Baylor hoisted a three-pointer at the buzzer that banked in, but the shot did not count. The ball did not leave Kenny Chery’s hand in time, and the Mountaineers left Waco with a 66-64 win. 

WVU had four scorers in double figures, with Juwan Staten leading the way with 15. Terry Henderson scored 11, Eron Harris scored 12, and Remi Dibo added 13 points off the bench. 

2015-2016 (69-58 WVU) 

With Big 12 and NCAA Tournament play approaching, the No. 10 ranked Mountaineers traveled to Waco to take on the No. 19 ranked Bears.  

West Virginia, in the second year of ‘Press Virginia,’ was getting lots of production from their suffocating pressure defense. While the team wasn’t at the top of the charts offensively, they got production from their bench that helped them, and we’ll see that in this Baylor game from 2016. 

The game did not get off to a fast start, as the first bucket didn’t come until the 16:21 mark. The score was 2-0 Baylor at the under-16 TV timeout. The game picked up to a degree, as WVU took a 30-27 lead into the locker room. 

The Mountaineers got off to a hot start after the break, going on an 8-0 run to start the second half. WVU kept the pressure on the Bears, extending their lead to 16 points near the 11-minute mark. 

The Bears stayed in the game with the hot hand of Taurean Prince. Prince made three straight three-pointers to make it a 53-46 game with 7:13 to play. 

Baylor got to the free throw line and made it a 53-48 game with six minutes left. WVU did a good job of keeping their lead in the final six minutes, as the Mountaineers made multiple layups and got to the free throw line. 

The Mountaineers closed off Baylor’s comeback efforts and won the game by a score of 69-58.  

WVU only had one starter in double figures, with Daxter Miles Jr. scoring 10 points. The Mountaineers got production from their bench, with Tarik Phillip scoring 11 and Jaysean Paige scoring a team-high of 14 points. 

For Baylor, Tauren Prince led the way with a game-high 19 points, but no other Bear reached double figures. 

The Mountaineers will try to get back in the win column and gain traction in the series against the Bears on Monday night. The game will tip-off at 9 p.m. from the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

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