MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–The stage is set for what is expected to be one of the top basketball games of the season at the Coliseum.
The first-ranked Baylor Bears roll into Morgantown to battle No. 10 West Virginia University for the first time this season. This will be seventh No.1 to come to town and the fifth matchup between Top 10 teams.
Last season the Mountaineers defeated Kansas 74-63 at the Coliseum.
This is the first time Baylor (15-0, 3-0 Big 12) has been ranked No. 1. At the beginning of the season, the Bears didn’t receive a vote in the preseason poll but on Monday received 55 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel.
Baylor is coming off a 61-57 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Bears have big wins over Oregon (No. 4 at the time), Xavier (No. 7 then) at home, and neutral-court wins over then-No. 10 Louisville and then-No. 24 Michigan State at the Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas.
“Well, They’re good,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “They’re so long I think is the biggest thing there. It makes that zone really good. When you can pretty much touch hands across the floor, you’re going to cover some ground. They cover a lot of ground.”
Big man, Johnathan Motley is Baylor’s leading scorer. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward averages 15.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per contest.
Manu Lecomte averages 11.8 points and 4.9 assists while draining a team-best 26 3-point field goals.
Al Freeman averages 11.1 points and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. averages 10.8 points and 7.1 rebounds.
The Bears are outscoring their opponents by an average of 18.8 points per game. Baylor uses its length to outbound opponents and dominate in shot blocking.
“You just can’t simulate that length,” Huggins said. “They can make mistakes and compensate for it because of their length. You don’t get anything easy or unchallenged around the rim.”
But the Mountaineers (13-2, 2-1) match
WVU leads the country in scoring margin (28.7), turnover margin (13,7), turnovers forced (24.3) and steals (12.8). WVU ranks third in offensive rebounds (16.0), third in assists (18.9), fourth in scoring offense (90.1), and 15th in scoring defense (61.4).
Jevon Carter (10.5 points and 3.1 steals) leads the Big 12 in steals and Nathan Adrian (9.9 points and 6.5 rebounds) ranks second in offensive rebounds.
Esa Ahmad (12.9 points) and Daxter Miles Jr. (11.1) points provide an offensive boost for the Mountaineers.
Miles scored 22 points in Saturday’s win 82-70 win over TCU. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior is averaging 16 points per game in Big 12 action. He is shooting 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Baylor has a 7-3 edge over the Mountaineers in the series. Last season WVU swept the season series.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and is televised on ESPN2.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS