No. 6 West Virginia fell to No. 3 Baylor 94-89 in overtime on Tuesday night and dropped to 17-7 (10-5) on the season.
They say it typically takes three-four games for a team to get their game legs back following a COVID-19 pause and in the opening minutes of the first half, it looked like Baylor was back to their old self.
The Bears jumped out to a 12-2 start which forced West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins to call a timeout to get his team regrouped. They couldn't create any good looks at the basket on the offensive end and had a hard time stopping the Bears from driving the ball into the paint.
Right out of the timeout, Huggins drew up a play for Taz Sherman who scored on the right block just seconds after coming into the game. That shot propelled him into taking the reigns of West Virginia's offense by connecting on four straight field goals. A few minutes later, sophomore guard Miles McBride hit a three and made a layup to erase what was a 12 point lead all the way down to two.
West Virginia had a chance to take the lead with the final possession of the first half but turned the ball over, giving Baylor one last opportunity. With just 1.3 seconds left on the clock, it was going to have to be a halfcourt heave for WVU, but Taz Sherman got called for running the baseline off a dead-ball foul. Once again, Baylor got an extra opportunity and this time cashed in as Jared Butler swished in a three at the buzzer in front of the WVU bench, carrying a 35-31 lead at the half.
About a minute into the 2nd half, Baylor scored a bucket and McBride had no one to inbound the ball to, which forced the Mountaineers to use their third timeout of the game. The lack of focus was evident. However, that timeout seemed to have been a blessing in disguise as West Virginia took their first lead of the day on a made three from Sean McNeil. He notched 11 points in just under three minutes with three field goals coming from beyond the arc.
Baylor was out of sync offensively and much of that can be attributed to West Virginia finally settling in and making good defensive rotations. The Mountaineers forced a steal and pushed it up to Emmitt Matthews Jr. who slammed the dunk home to make it a 50-43 West Virginia lead.
It didn't take the Bears long to get back into the game as Matthew Mayer picked up five points and Davion Mitchell swished a three from the corner. With 7:15 left, the Mountaineers led 62-60.
Both teams traded baskets over the next four minutes of play and Taz Sherman remained the hot hand for West Virginia by hitting a deep three to break a 69-69 tie. Mayer hit a pair of threes to push Baylor into the lead but that was quickly erased when Derek Culver connected on both free throws to get the lead back. Baylor missed a shot to tie the game, forcing the Bears to foul McBride. McBride made just one of two from the line keeping it at a two-point game with 13 seconds left.
When Baylor needed a bucket the most, they went right to their man, Jared Butler who drove the ball right at Culver and finished strong to tie the game. West Virginia only had two seconds to break the tie, so they attempted a football pass which was intercepted by the Bears. However, Baylor gave the ball right back by throwing the ball right out of bounds of the inbound. McBride tossed it into McNeil who gave it back to McBride but the three at the buzzer was no good, sending the game into overtime.
In the first couple minutes of overtime, both teams traded buckets once again. Jalen Bridges hit a three at the buzzer on what looked like a lost possession to give West Virginia a three-point lead. Jared Butler hit one from deep on the other end to knot it up at 88-88. Davion Mitchell attacked the paint and laid one in to give Baylor the lead back. West Virginia put the ball on the floor on their next possession which drew a jump ball, possession arrow Baylor. West Virginia chose to foul early and Adam Flagler hit both to put the Bears up 92-89. McBride turned the ball over and the Mountaineers were forced to foul once again. Davion Mitchell knocked both shots down, putting the game out of reach for the Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers will be back in action on Thursday as they welcome in TCU.
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