Rico Gathers scored a career-high 22 points and Brady Heslip added 20 to lead Baylor to an 80-60 victory over West Virginia in Big 12 action at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.
Gathers made 6 of his 7 field goal attempts – mostly on dunks – and Heslip did it from the outside, knocking down 6 of 9 from behind the arc, as the Bears improved to 16-8, 7-4, and keeps them in the thick of things in the league standings.
West Virginia, which came into the game riding a three-game winning streak, once again struggled to hang with an upper-level Big 12 team on the road.
“I think when things don’t go our way we don’t fight through them very well,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “I go over to the bench and I’m (like), ‘Don’t quit, don’t quit; we’re in it, we’re in it’ and the guys are just sitting there. They’re not really ready to fight through it.”
Things began slipping away early in the second half when the Mountaineers lost track of Heslip in the corner and he drained a 3 to put the Bears up seven, 41-34. Pierre Jackson followed with a steal and layup and then Heslip banged in another 3 from the top of the key to put Baylor up by 12, 46-34.
Heslip’s fifth 3 with 7:45 remaining made it 61-44, and from there Baylor was able to run and hide.
Freshman Eron Harris
had another strong offensive game for the Mountaineers, scoring a team-high 19 on 6 of 9 shooting, while Deniz Kilicli
“Deniz has to be a factor for us or we can’t win,” said Huggins. “And if not for Deniz we can’t get a shot. We can break people down off the dribble but we don’t finish.”
At one point in the first half West Virginia was shooting 60 percent before finishing the game hitting 20 of 46 for 43.5 percent.
On the other side, Baylor made 27 of 53 for 50.9 percent including 9 of 22 from 3. The Bears made eight steals and forced 18 turnovers that resulted in 23 points.
“We had 18 turnovers against a half-court defense that you can run offense against,” said Huggins. “And many of them were live-ball turnovers.”
The loss drops West Virginia’s record to 12-12, 5-6. The Mountaineers return to Morgantown early Thursday morning and will have two days of prep work before facing Texas Tech on Saturday at the Coliseum.
The Red Raiders lost by 24 at home to Oklahoma State earlier tonight. Earlier this month, West Virginia defeated Texas Tech 77-61 in Lubbock.
“We’re going to show up and compete; we’ll find the guys in practice the next couple of days who will show up and compete on Saturday afternoon,” said Huggins.
Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the game will be televised on the Big 12 Network.