MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia blew it. It may be harsh to say that they were “supposed” to win against the No. 5 team in the country, but they were.
Before tipoff in Morgantown, on Tuesday night, WVU had everything on their side. Baylor was limping, literally and figuratively, into the WVU Coliseum. The Bears were coming off their second-consecutive loss over the past week, which was the first time since 2019 that Scott Drew’s team did so. Baylor was also missing leading scorer James Akinjo and freshman Jeremy Sochan due to injuries. West Virginia came into Tuesday’s game with a perfect 10-0 record at home this season. I don’t care if it’s a national champion contender in Baylor, or Arkansas Pine Bluff, West Virginia should’ve won. Baylor was vulnerable for a win.
It all seemed over early, when the Bears took a 30-14 lead with 8:48 left in the first half. But behind Malik Curry and Sean McNeil, the Mountaineers played their best basketball all season, going on a 14-0 run, getting right back into the game. If you were at the coliseum on Tuesday night, you would know how loud it was. With all of the momentum and the best home court advantage the team could’ve had, how did they blow this?
West Virginia shot 7-of-22 off of layups. 15 missed layups, 30 points left on the board, give or take how difficult the shots were. Just make a couple of those and West Virginia puts themselves in a better position to win.
“You’ve got to put time in. The guys that excel at this game are the ones that put time in,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said following the loss.
After an and-one conversion by Gabe Osabuohien, West Virginia had cut the Baylor lead to one with five minutes to go in the game. From that point on, Baylor went on an 17-9 run to close the game, winning 77-68. Multiple missed three’s by Taz Sherman and turnovers gave Baylor an opportunity to get some breathing room, which they did.
Once again, West Virginia needed Curry to produce more than he does, and he’s been doing a great job at it. Once Curry got going late, Baylor was already up eight with three minutes to go. Just too much to overcome against the defending national champions.
West Virginia had their chance. One of the best teams in the country was vulnerable for a win, without their leading scorer, playing in an environment that West Virginia hadn’t lost in all year. The Mountaineers should’ve closed the game out and won.
Now, West Virginia is in another must-win situation, when they travel to Lubbock, Texas, this weekend to take on No. 18 Texas Tech, who just beat Baylor last week and No. 15 Iowa State on Tuesday night. The Red Raiders are rolling, while WVU is not. West Virginia is in desperate need of a resume building win.