WACO, Texas–For the first time since joining the Big 12, No.10 West Virginia finished in second place in the Big 12 standings.
Jaysean Paige scored 14 points as the Mountaineers defeated No.19 Baylor 69-58 on Saturday afternoon and secured a No. 2 seed in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.
Taurean Prince led the Bears (21-10, 10-8 Big 12) with 19 points. The senior grabbed 10 boards and was the only Baylor player in double-figure scoring.
WVU (24-7, 13-5) forced 16 turnovers and had six steals.
The Mountaineers head into the conference tournament with a four game winning streak.
WVU started the game slow, not scoring a basket until more than five minutes into the game. Luckily for the Mountaineers, the Bears were struggling. Both teams combined for 0-of-9 shooting to start the game.
Nathan Adrian’s tip-in five minutes into the game started an 8-0 WVU run.
Devin Williams made two free throws with 18 seconds remaining to give the Mountaineers a 32-27-halftime lead.
WVU used an 11-2 run after halftime to build a 16-point lead over Baylor.
“They’re really long and really athletic so we tried to spread them out a little bit more in the second half,” head coach Bob Huggins said.
The Bears didn’t make a 3-pointer until Ishmail Wainwright connected from beyond the arc with 11:32 left to start a 17-6 run to pull Baylor within five with six minutes to go.
Miles then got free under the basket on an inbounds play and Jevon Carter found him to put the Mountaineers up 55-48 with 5:36 remaining.
Clutch free throw shooting allowed WVU to pull away down the stretch.
Carter played his best game in weeks. He scored eight points and dished eight assists. The sophomore guard had three steals.
“That’s the best game J.C. has played since he’s been here,” Huggins said. “He’s really starting to play and think a little bit more like a point guard now.”
The Mountaineers haven’t won a game in the Big 12 tournament, losing to Texas Tech in 2013, Texas in 2014 and Baylor last year.
“I’m looking forward to winning a game or three in the conference tournament – sticking around a little bit longer than we have been,” Huggins said. “But I like where we are.”
WVU will face either Texas Tech or TCU in the quarterfinals on Thursday.