|Field Goal %||42.0||43.6|
|Three Point %||30.0||38.1|
|Free Throw %||73.9||75.9|
The 18th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers (23-9 12-7) defeated the Baylor Bears (18-14 8-11) in the quarterfinals of the Big XII Conference Tournament 78-65.
The Mountaineers had a slow start to the game, only scoring 9 points in the first eight and a half minutes of the game and would trail 18-9 with 8:46 left in the half. They were shooting a dismal 22.2% (4-18) from the field and 16.7% (1-6) from behind the arc.
West Virginia was struggling but they started to heat up and finished the half on a 20-5 run, going 6-10 from the field and 2-5 from three-point range, taking a six-point lead into halftime 29-23.
The defense opened the gates for the run turning Baylor over seven times during that period. “It’s an accumulative affect. We had the one stretch where I think we got the ball three times in a row and that’s when we kind were able to open the game up a little bit. That’s what we hope it does for us.” Said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins.
Baylor was held without a field goal for a little over eight and a half minutes during that stretch.
West Virginia guard Jevon Carter hit a shot from ¾ court as time expired to end the half. “It gave us a little bit of momentum. They had a put back dunk. A dunk that could change the game. I guess that three-pointer just killed them right there with it. That’s a big momentum changer. It was big for us going into halftime. We came out and played with the same energy from the first half.” Said Carter
Jevon had an efficient first half with six points, four assists and three steals.
Forward Esa Ahmad led all scorers with nine points and five rebounds.
The Mountaineers came out hot the second half and senior guard Daxter Miles Jr led the way. After Baylor would cut the lead to two and Ahmad hit a layup to put them back up four, Miles made three straight threes to give the Mountaineers a 13-point lead 40-27.
“When Dax is hitting, it makes the game much easier for everybody else. He’s an unbelievable scorer and when he gets hot, there’s nobody stopping him.” Said Carter.
Dax got 17 of his 19 points in the second half, making all five threes he shot and went 2-2 from the free throw line.
Ahmad had a dunk along the baseline, was fouled and completed the three-point play with the free throw. That started a 12-4 Mountaineer run to give them a 19-point lead with 6:12 left in the game. Esa was aggressive throughout the game and it’s the player Mountaineer fans have been witnessing late in the season.
Baylor wouldn’t go away without a fight. The Mountaineers were up 18 with a little over minutes to in the game and Bears guard Manu Lecomte scored 13 of his 27 points in about three minutes to cut the lead to nine with just 42 seconds remaining.
During that time, Forward Sagaba Konate and guard Beetle Bolden both missed layups. The game was never in question but Huggins laid into his players during a timeout.
Carter hit two free throws and Esa Ahmad put the exclamation point on the game with a dunk to give West Virginia the 13-point lead.
Ahmad led the team with 21 points and he was huge with eight rebounds when Sagaba Konate got into foul trouble. “Baylor outrebounded us the first two games, even though we were fortunate enough to win but they outrebounded us and that was a big emphasis this week, was to make sure we rebounded the ball that was a big emphasis to Esa. He was better in the press he gets three steals. I thought he played really, well.” Said Huggins.
In the first two meetings, Baylor outrebounded West Virginia by an average of six rebounds. This time around they beat them on the boards 37-31 and only allowed seven offensive rebounds after Baylor had 17 in the last meeting.
Baylor Forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr had double-doubles in the first two games versus the Mountaineers. West Virginia held him to just four points, although he did have nine rebounds.
Mountaineer Forward Logan Routt played a solid 17 minutes in place of Sags that got into early foul trouble and pick up his 3rd foul 40 secs into the second half. Routt only had two points two rebounds and an assist, but it was all the little things he did to help his team win. He continuously cleared the lane out and had no turnovers.
Jevon Carter had his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 assists. He went 6-6 from the free throw line to close the game out, 8-8 overall. He led the way with his defense with six steals and the Mountaineers got 22 points of 22 Baylor turnovers.
West Virginia will face Texas Tech Friday night in the Big XII Tournament Semifinals at around 9:30.