West Virginia bounced back on the road against the Baylor Bears in a thriller Tuesday Night. The Mountaineers downed the Bears 66-64 picking up their fourth Big 12 win of the season.
"A lot of people are writing us off, saying we're the same team as last year. That's far from the truth," said Juwan Staten. "We have a good group of guys, we all care about each other, and we all play for each other. We keep fighting."
Baylor's Brady Heslip drilled a three-pointer to start the game but Devin Williams answered for the Mountaineers as he completed the old fashion three-point play on the other end. Isaiah Austin hit a jumper from the corner to bring the score to 7-3 in favor of the Bears with 16:51 remaining in the first half.
The Mountaineers would take the lead after a steal from Kevin Noreen led to a fast break layup for Staten. Staten's layup made the score 8-7 West Virginia with 15:58 remaining the first.
Eron Harris hit a deep three with 12:01 to play in the first as stout defense from the Mountaineers kept the Bears uncomfortable in the early going. West Virginia led 17-13.
Taurean Prince knocked down a three for the Bears to narrow their deficit. The Bears trailed the Mountaineers 17-16 with9:05 left to play in the first.
Remi Dibo extended the Mountaineers' lead by hitting two threes from opposite corners. The Mountaineers' led 23-18 with 6:02 remaining in the first half.
"I've been ready to play lately," said Dibo. "He [head coach Bob Huggins] gave me a chance today and I came through. I just got to keep working hard."
The Bears pulled within one as Heslip buried a three from the top of the key. The Bears trailed the Mountaineers 27-26 late in the first half.
West Virginia lost the battle on the boards in the first half as Baylor out-rebounded West Virginia 20-9. However, 11 Baylor turnovers allowed the Mountaineers to carry a small advantage into the locker room. West Virginia led Baylor 36-33 at the half.
Harris started the half by hitting a three pointer but Heslip responded quickly with a three of his own. West Virginia maintained their lead early in the second half, 41-36.
West Virginia was able to gain momentum with 15:42 remaining in the game as Staten found Harris on a 3-1 breakaway. Harris hit the reverse layup to give the Mountaineers the 45-28 advantage.
An air-ball from Harris in the short corner landed Gary Franklin at the free throw line on the other end. Franklin made both free throws to cut into West Virginia's lead. The Mountaineers held a 47-44 lead with 14:10 remaining in the game.
A flagrant foul by Baylor put Staten at the line but Staten missed both of his free throws. The Mountaineers came up with no points on the possession. Baylor then tied the game up as Corey Jefferson banked home a floater inside. A 7-0 run by the Bears knotted the game at 47 with 12:15 remaining.
The leading scorer for the Bears was Heslip who scored 13 points while Kenny Cherry followed him with 10. The Bears shot 20-44 (45 percent) from the field, 10-20 (50 percent) from three-land and 14-23 (61 percent).
Staten continued to attack the basket midway through the second. Staten was able to finish the "and-one" play to lift the Mountaineers a 55-51 lead with 7:51 left in the game.
Staten led the Mountaineers in scoring with 15 points while Dibo dropped 13 and Harris chipped in with 12. As a team the Mountaineers shot 24-60 (40 percent) from the field, 8-23 (35 percent) from behind the arc and 10-15 (67 percent) from the free throw line.
Dibo took control late in the second half by hitting two three pointers. Dibo's threes allowed West Virginia to take a 62-56 lead with 4:54 remaining in the game.
Back and forth missed shots and turnovers from Baylor and West Virginia consumed most of the late minutes in the game. However it was Heslip who nailed a three pointer to bring the Bears within one. West Virginia clung to one-point lead, 64-63 with 56 seconds reaming.
A foul against Baylor put Staten at the free throw line and again Staten would come up empty. Missing both shots allowed Baylor's Rico Gathers to hit one of two from the line to tie the game at 64 with 36 seconds remaining in the game.
With 4 seconds reaming, Staten made up for his free throw misses as he swooped in under the basket and hit a nifty reverse layup for the go-ahead score. Staten's lay-in sealed the Mountaineers' victory.
"After the free throws, I was a little disappointed," said Staten. "I just needed to not let the team down. I already missed a number of free throws in the game and I just needed to do something."
"We all had trust in him," said Harris. "His decision was to hit the layup and he got the layup. We went crazy for it. It was great."
West Virginia defeated Baylor 66-64.