It is looking like the third time will be the charm for West Virginia and Baylor basketball this season and the Bears are scheduled to travel to Morgantown for a 5 p.m. tipoff with the Mountaineers Tuesday.
Twice this West Virginia was scheduled to the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas to play the Bear and twice that game was postponed. First, it was because of COVID protocols in the Baylor program, then it was the Big 12’s decision as a way to make up as many conference games as possible. So now, the No. 6 Mountaineers (17-6, 10-4 Big 12) and No. 3 Bears (18-1, 10-1) will meet for the first time since WVU knocked off then-No. 4 Baylor in last season’s regular-season finale.
“It was a great matchup and I would assume it will be the same this time around,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said Monday. “They’re terrific offensively. They play really hard and I think, defensively, their bigs have really, really helped them. They’re veteran, they don’t get rattled, they play at a great pace and they’re terrific at playing in space.”
Huggins pointed out several similarities between the two teams, from the scoring ability of both backcourts, to the quality of each team’s bench and the play of their star forwards.
On each team’s guards, Huggins acknowledged the praise that Baylor’s Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell receive, but made the point that WVU’s guards are quite good as well. Butler, Teague and Mitchell combine to average 44.6 points per game for the Bears. WVU’s own guard trio of Miles “Deuce” McBride, Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil combine for 40.3 points per game of their own.
One of the things Baylor has been lauded for the most this season has been their depth, some saying Baylor has as many as eight potential starters. Again, Huggins said that reminds him of his own team.
“We’ve got at least eight too,” Huggins said. “When you bring a Taz Sherman off the bench, when you bring Gabe [Osabuohien] off the bench, bring Jordan [McCabe] off the bench.”
Finally, Huggins compared Baylor forward Mark Vital, who averages 5.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, to WVU’s Derek Culver, who averaged 15 and 10.1.
“[Vital’s] got a great understanding how to play,” Huggins said. “He’s a very, very good passer, he keeps balls alive, he’s not selfish. He’s a lot like the guy we’ve got.”
Baylor is coming off of its first loss of the season, a 71-58 defeat against No. 13 Kansas on Saturday. It was the Bears’ second game since they came back from a COVID pause that lasted three weeks. WVU and Baylor will tipoff Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the WVU Coliseum. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.