Baylor Big Men Beat WVU

Despite leading by six points at halftime, the West Virginia men's basketball team suffered a devastating blow to its NCAA tournament resume with a 88-75 loss to Baylor at the Coliseum on Saturday.

Baylor (18-9, 6-8) has now won four straight games, and the Mountaineers (15-12, 7-7) have dropped their last two games after moving into the NCAA tournament by some more than a week ago.

"We look ahead at our schedule, and our next four games are going to be very tough," said WVU point guard Juwan Staten. "We were really counting on winning these home games, but we're not out. We feel like we can go out on the road and win ... we can play with any team in the conference, so we have four games to get right."

The Bears' dominating size inside gave the Mountaineers trouble all game long. Baylor was led by the combination of forward Royce O'Neale and center Isaiah Austin. The two combined for just eight points in the first meeting but dominated on Saturday. O'Neale led the team with 22 points. Austin had 19 points and seven blocks.

"We're not ever going to get back to where we were unless we start to guard again," said a frustrated WVU head coach Bob Huggins.

Baylor had a 38-12 advantage in the paint, and WVU missed 14 layups and close shots in the paint on Saturday. West Virginia also lost the rebounding battle despite leading it at halftime.

In total, Baylor shot 54 percent from the field while WVU hit just 40 percent of its shots.

Baylor outscored WVU by 19 in the second half.

"How the hell are you going to give up 88 points and think you guarded anyone? How the hell are you going to give up 38 points in the paint and think you guarded anyone?," Huggins said. "You let the same guy score on you five straight times, and say you really tried to guard a guy. Come on."

WVU was led by sophomore guard Eron Harris, who had one of his most efficient games of the entire season. He finished with 32 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He hit 6-of-9 3-point shots.

"It didn't matter what I did, because we lost," Harris said. "I'm wondering where we went wrong. We didn't get the stops we needed tonight, and that's basically the storyline every time we lose."

Staten was his consistent self, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

The Mountaineers were without sophomore guard and third-leading scorer Terry Henderson, who was out with what sources told was mono. Without him in the lineup, freshman forward Nathan Adrian started in Henderson's place.

WVU opened the game by making six of its first 11 shots including three 3-pointers. A 9-0 Mountaineers run gave them a 17-9 advantage and forced an early timeout by the Bears.

Baylor would cut the lead to one point a few minutes later, however, and forced WVU to call its first timeout with 9:19 to play in the first half up just 21-20.

West Virginia was able to keep Baylor from regaining the lead for the rest of the first half despite the Bears tying it up twice. WVU would score the final four points of the half including a three from Adrian in the corner to take a 42-36 lead into the locker room.

Baylor would take its first lead since the 14:53 mark of the first half when it went up 50-49 with 13:41 to play in the game.

The Bears' lead would grow to its largest of the game at six after a three and a nifty driving layup forcing a WVU timeout with 8:43 remaining.

With the shot clock running down, Baylor guard Brady Heslip drained a three to give the Bears a 67-59 lead, putting West Virginia even further behind. Two straight threes on as many possessions by Harris made it 67-65 and forced a Baylor timeout.

The Bears would strike back, as O'Neale drained a three of his own – his third in just a handful of minutes – to take a five-point lead back with under six minutes to play.

Baylor would take a 10-point lead with 3:26 on a shot from Austin, who had an easy time against a much smaller Remi Dibo throughout the game. WVU couldn't find a way back after that.

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