West Virginia (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) took advantage of an electric atmosphere and jumped out on Baylor (15-1, 3-1 Big 12) from the opening tip-off in Tuesday night's contest. A 12-2 run propelled the Mountaineers to an early 15-4 lead and it quickly became apparent that the Bears were in for a long night as they continually struggled with West Virginia's frenetic defensive play. The Bears, who seemed somewhat startled by the combination of 14,632 raucous Mountaineer fans and West Virginia's full court pressure, were able to answer the initial burst by mounting a 9-2 run of their own, but turnovers proved too much to overcome for the No.1 team in the country.
Baylor committed 16 first half turnovers and 15 of those came in the first 12 minutes of the contest. That turnover discrepancy helped the Mountaineers continually maintain a lead that never dwindled under five despite being out-rebounded 25-13 in the first the half. Both teams traded punches but at the end of the first half senior forward Nathan Adrian knocked down a jump shot that put the Mountaineers up 39-32 and gave the Mountaineers momentum heading in to the locker room.
It didn't take the Mountaineers long to pounce on the bewildered Bears in half number two, West Virginia quickly pushed its lead out to 50-37 after a 7-0 run that featured a pair of Esa Ahmad lay-ups and a Daxter Miles three-pointer. West Virginia's press didn't slow up on the Bears in the second half either, as the Mountaineers forced the Bears into a whopping 29 turnovers on the night, the most the Mountaineers have ever forced in a Big 12 contest (the previous record was 26 against TCU).
Along with the continual harassment of the Bears, Jevon Carter and Nathan Adrian continued to hit shots, which proved to be a bad recipe for Scott Drew's bunch, who saw West Virginia's lead grow to as many as 26 points with roughly five minutes remaining. In that stretch freshman Sagaba Konate added insult to injury by coming up with a pair of monster rejections that will surely be talked about for some time to come. The large lead enabled head coach Bob Huggins to empty his bench and allow all 15 players to get into the game. Huggins was also able to limit Adrian to 30 minutes, which is less than he had been getting since big 12 play began. After the contest Adrian reflected on the win and his play.
"It was one of the best atmospheres since I have been here," said Adrian. "I was just trying to play hard. I wasn't searching for shots or anything - no one was, that's when we play our best."
Adrian picked up a career high 22 points and tallied six rebounds in the win and Carter chipped in 16 points of his own. The Mountaineers will look to build on the win and continue their momentum when they travel to Austin to take on Texas on Saturday at 4:00.null