The start of Monday evening's contest between No.10 West Virginia and Baylor couldn't have been more discouraging for Mountaineer fans. WVU was already missing starting small forward Esa Ahmad, and within the first minutes of the contest it lost Nathan Adrian and Daxter Miles for the first half due to early foul trouble.
On top of that, the Mountaineers started out 1-9 from the field and allowed Baylor to open up the contest on a 12-3 run as the Bears dominated on the glass and in the paint. It took roughly eight minutes but the Mountaineers woke up from their brief hibernation and decided to go bear hunting. After it had looked completely inept offensively, West Virginia started to attack the glass and used a spark from Elijah Macon and some nice interior passing. That, combined with multiple forced turnovers, enabled WVU to go on a run.
In all, the Mountaineers went on a 15-3 run and took their first lead of the contest at the 8:50 mark after Baylor coach Scott Drew received a technical foul for protesting a Baylor foul. West Virginia made four consecutive free throws in the stretch and took an 18-15 advantage. But right when it looked like the Mountaineers were ready to potentially take the game over, they hit a field goal drought similar to the ones they experienced in Saturday's win at TCU.
West Virginia didn't score a field goal from the 9:10 mark in the half until the 3:26 mark when Elijah Macon hit a baby hook shot, but it was able to continue scoring thanks to a tight whistle by the officials. From that point on, both teams battled back and forth and the Mountaineers led 30-28 at the half despite losing four players in the half to foul trouble.
In the second half West Virginia continued to take advantage of the absence of Baylor point guard Manu Lecomte and continued to turn the Bears over, but the effect of the full court pressure was somewhat offset when Nate Adrian quickly picked up his third foul and freshman Maciej Bender was left with the responsibility of covering Jonathan Motley. The result was several quick inside buckets by the Bears' big man, but the Mountaineers countered with solid inside play by Elijah Macon and fierce defense and pushed their lead to 49-41 with 9:00 remaining.
After West Virginia extended its lead to eight (its largest of the game), Motley scored nine straight points and willed Baylor back into the lead with 6:27 remaining. Motley's nine consecutive points spurred a 16-2 Bear run that put Baylor up 57-51 with 4:01 remaining. That run proved to be too much to overcome and the Bears never relinquished the lead the rest of the way as the Mountaineers continued to collapse. In all, Baylor outscored WVU 30-14 the rest of the way.
At the end of the day, it was Baylor's rebounding and West Virginia's inability to adequately defend Motley that did the Mountaineers in. Motley scored 23 points and hauled in eight boards and the Bears held a 43-23 rebounding advantage on the night. One of the only positives to come out of the match was the fact that Jevon Carter joined the 1,000 point club as he led the Mountaineers with 18 points and nine rebounds.
The Mountaineers will attempt to lock up the No.2 spot in the Big 12 tournament when it takes on Iowa State in the season finale on Friday night. If the Mountaineers win that one, they will have a first day bye and avoid playing No.1 ranked Kansas until the championship game; if it falls to Iowa State it will be a No.4 seed and have to take on red hot Oklahoma State on the tournament's first day.