Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports

Baylor looks to get back on track against West Virginia

Baylor had a tough loss against Texas on Monday. The focus now shifts to finding a way against a talented West Virginia team on the road.

No. 15 Baylor has a key matchup against No. 14 West Virginia on Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va. The Bears experienced a brutal loss to the Texas Longhorns on Monday and seem to have lost some of the magic they showed early in Big 12 play. WVU has struggled at times as of late, but is coming off of an impressive win over Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum. This game could be a battle for second place in the Big 12. 

MEDIA INFORMATION

No. 15 Baylor (17-5, 6-3) vs. No. 14 West Viginia (18-4, 7-2)

Date

Feb. 6, 2016 | 7:00 p.m. CT

Location

Morgantown, W.Va. | WVU Coliseum (14,000)

TV

ESPN2 and WatchESPN

Radio

ESPN Central Texas

Online Audio

Listen Online

Live Stats

Gametracker

Twitter @BaylorMBB

STORYLINES

  • Saturday is just the ninth series meeting, all of which have come since 2011. Baylor leads 7-1, with four straight victories over the Mountaineers. 
  • Baylor is the only team in basketball to win in Morgantown, W.Va. the last three seasons. 
  • Baylor is looking to win four Big 12 road games in a row for the first time in program history. The Bears did it while in the Southwest Conference in 1990. 
  • All five of Baylor's losses this season came against teams ranked in the RPI top 20. 
  • Baylor is 5-0 in games following a loss this season. 

KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Come out fast. West Virginia is a high-tempo team and can put up points in a hurry. Additionally, the Mountaineers are the best scoring defense in the Big 12 and have a scoring differential of nearly 16 points per game. Baylor ranks dead last in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense, which does not bode well against a team that creates so many extra possessions for itself as is. At least two players will need to have above-average scoring games, likely Taurean Prince and Al Freeman. The offense has been somewhat inconsistent the past two weeks. Baylor needs to get out of its slump, because West Virginia is too good to beat when you're not playing your best. 

2. Baylor must avoid turnovers. West Virginia plays an aggressive defensive game-plan that features swarming guards combining with length on the perimeter to get teams out of game plans. Nine players on WVU's roster average at least 15 minutes per game for Bob Huggins, though forward Jonathan Holton is expected to be suspended for the game. West Virginia averages 11 steals per game, compared to Baylor's eight. The Bears avoided turnovers against Texas' similar havoc system on Monday, but the defense completely took Baylor out of its offense. That can't happen in Morgantown against an even better team. 

3. Limit Devin WIlliams. There isn't a player in basketball quite like Rico Gathers, but Williams comes close with his size and activity. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound senior makes a living cleaning up mistakes around the basket and will make Gathers' life difficult. Baylor struggled against the size in Texas' frontcourt on Monday night. Gathers and Johnathan Motley both got into foul trouble that took them out of the game. If Williams is able to generate multiple second-chance point opportunities, Baylor is in trouble.  

WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME?

Baylor played West Virginia three times last season, winning all three by double-figures. The Bears outscored the Mountaineers by 13.3 points per game in the wins last season. Their best was an 18-point victory over the Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.Va. on Feb. 7, 2015. Rico Gathers  had one of his best games with 17 points and 16 rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting. Taurean Prince added 15 points off the bench for the Bears in a big win. Devin Williams had 20 points and 15 rebounds for West Virginia, which shot just 36.4 percent from the field. 

PREDICTIONS

Shehan Jeyarajah, BearsIllustrated.com - West Virginia wins 76-70

Baylor has seen pretty tremendous success against West Virginia the past few years, winning the last four matchups. However, I think this is the game where the Bears' luck runs out against Bob Huggins. Baylor had the ability to break WVU's press last season easily, because the Bears had numerous ballhandlers in every lineup. Among those were Kenny Chery, Taurean Prince, Royce O'Neale, Lester Medford, Ish Wainright and Al Freeman. Baylor might have only lost two players from last season, but it lost two players who allowed it to play the kind of plan it was able to play against the press. This team is still unproven in that regard. 


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