MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Tuesday’s matchup between No. 6 West Virginia and No. 3 Baylor was an action-packed, dramatic game between the top two teams in the Big 12. Close the entire way with both teams holding the advantage at different times, both teams looked evenly matched throughout all of regulation. As the game went into overtime, however, the Bears’ experience and attention to detail is what eventually led them to the 94-89 win.
“We made enough plays but we just didn’t do the little stuff that mattered,” WVU point guard Miles “Deuce” McBride said following the loss. “Not talking, not executing on offense at the end. At the end of the day, they just did more little stuff to win this game.”
McBride said WVU’s loss to Baylor was the result of a lot of little things eventually adding up to turn the game to the Bears’ favor.
“When you’re playing against some of the top teams in the nation, every possession matters, defense and offense,” McBride said. “If you give a great team another possess and another possession, it’s just going to add up and they’re going to take advantage of it at some point.”
West Virginia and Baylor were as even as can be on the stat sheet. WVU shot 46.4% from the floor, Baylor shot 51.4%. WVU had 36 rebounds, Baylor 31. Turnovers (16 to 14) and fouls (17 to 22) were even as well.
WVU coach Bob Huggins said it was Baylors’ experience that allowed them to avoid making mistakes in critical moments, something play plagued WVU in the game. Huggins pointed out a couple of failed inbounds passes and a giveaway in transition that led to a Baylor basket as mistakes that WVU made at the most important times.
“That’s a really, really good basketball team and I think we’re a really good basketball team,” Huggins started. “We just didn’t do what we had to do. We’re a very young basketball team. You’re talking about a bunch of guys [on Baylor] that’re fourth-year juniors and fifth-year seniors. Scott [Drew] has done a great job of putting those guys together.”
It was the overtime period that really showed the difference between the two teams, according to Huggins. In overtime, West Virginia shot just 1 of 5 from the floor with three turnovers. Baylor, on the other hand, shot 4 of 6 and had just one turnover.
“In overtime, we just kind of lost our momentum, lost our energy,” junior Sean McNeil said. “I thought we made enough plays, there was just stuff that didn’t show up on the stat sheet – deflected balls that go out of bounds, I gave up a rebound – it’s just stuff like that that cost us tonight.”
“That’s a very good basketball team, a very well-coached basketball team and we had every opportunity to win and we don’t,” Huggins added. “We just didn’t finish. We turned the ball over at the most inopportune times and for no reason. We forced things that weren’t there.”
With a quick turnaround host TCU on Thursday, Huggins said it is important for the Mountaineers to get past this loss quickly and turn the page for their final two games of the season.
“We can’t let one loss turn into three,” Huggins said. “We can still finish second in the league but we’ve got to take care of our business. We’ve got to concentrate on TCU and then after that, we’ve got to concentrate on Oklahoma State. We’ve got to grow up, we can’t let one loss turn into three.”