MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Both Baylor and West Virginia upset AP Top 10 teams on Saturday, but only one team got to build on that momentum.
Makai Mason scored a season-high 29 points as the Bears cruised to an 85-73 win over West Virginia on Monday night.
Baylor (12-6, 4-2 Big 12) survived a second-half comeback attempt to grab their fourth win in five games.
“Anytime you play a West Virginia team with Coach Huggins, you got to fight them for 40 minutes,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
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Baylor got out to as much as a 17-point lead in the first half behind big 3-point plays by Devonte Bandoo. The Bears extended their lead to 59-38 with just under 16 minutes left.
“I felt pretty relaxed,” Mason said. “We did a great job of preparing, so that definitely helped.”
Then freshman Brandon Knapper started to turn the tide for the Mountaineers (9-10, 1-6), leading his team to a quick 13-2 run to cut the Baylor lead to 10 with just under 11 minutes to go.
After a back-and-forth battle between the two teams for the next few minutes, Mario Kegler hit a layup and a trio of free throws to put the Bears back up 13. West Virginia wouldn’t be able to close the gap.
“We didn’t do a very good job with the press,” Drew said. “The good thing about a Monday game is that it gives us a lot of time to work on it for the weekend.”
Kegler scored 18 points and Bandoo added 13 points for the Bears. King McClure had eight rebounds.
James “Beetle” Bolden led the Mountaineers with 22 points. Brandon Knapper added a career-high 15 and Derek Culver had eight rebounds.
“We were 1 and 5 in the league,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “How could you not be ready to play? Now, we’re 1 and 6. I don’t understand how you could not be ready to play.”
WVU center Sagaba Konate missed his 10th straight game with a knee injury.
Baylor: The Bears have won four of their last five games, including a near-win against then-No. 7 Kansas on Jan. 12. Despite being unable to put away West Virginia, Baylor seems to be heating up at the right time.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers exhibited their classic “Press Virginia” style of play, forcing 16 Baylor turnovers in the second half, prompting a serious comeback to keep them in the game. That kind of ferocious press is exactly what WVU will need in hopes to upset No. 1 Tennessee and No. 24 Iowa State.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Baylor could not find consistency on all ends of the floor. In the first half, the Bears struggled from the foul line (4 of 14) and impressed from beyond the arc (6 of 16). In the second half, it was the opposite as Baylor went 15 of 17 from the foul line and only made two 3-pointers.
The Mountaineers fall to 1-6 in conference play for the first time since 2002. It was West Virginia’s last season with Gale Catlett at the helm, losing to St. John’s, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers twice and Seton Hall before beating Providence. WVU would end up going 8-20 that season.
FRUSTRATION BREWING IN MORGANTOWN
Huggins was not at all pleased with his team’s effort in the paint.
“I don’t understand how we can continuously miss the shots that we miss,” Huggins said. “We were 10 for 26 in layups and shots around the rim.”
Despite this, WVU outscored the Bears 22-16 in the paint.
Baylor returns home to host Alabama in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.
West Virginia heads to Knoxville to take on top-ranked Tennessee in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. on Saturday.
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