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February 22, 2014

Baylor tops WVU with dominate post play





Despite a 32-point performance from Eron Harris, Baylor proved to be too much for West Virginia Saturday afternoon in the Coliseum. The Bears dominated the Mountaineers in the post, allowing for the visiting foe to return home with a 88-75 victory.

For the first three minutes of Saturday's contest, the Bears and Mountaineers remained rather even on the scoreboard. A 5-4 West Virginia lead, aided by a three pointer from Eron Harris, had the large Coliseum crowd feeling good early.

But prior the first media timeout at the 14:25 mark, both squads would experience quick momentum swings. A corner three from Nathan Adrian, assisted by a Kevin Noreen offensive rebound, put the Mountaineers up 8-4 with a building tide of momentum.

Baylor, however, would answer the three on its ensuing possession with a basket from Brady Heslip, helping keep the Bear's deficit at one point - 10-9 - at the first break.

West Virginia would manage to pick up the pace exiting the timeout, going on a 9-0 run in a mere two minutes, forcing the Bears to call a timeout, down 17-9 with 12:27 remaining in the half. A three pointer from Remi Dibo, taking advantage of a larger role today due to the illness of Terry Henderson, sparked the run and sent the Coliseum into a frenzy.

The Bears would quickly break the streak, however, with another Heslip three, closing the deficit to 19-14 at the second media break.

It took ten minutes to open the half, but Baylor finally put together a serious run. A pair of dunks in the paint, taking advantage of lax West Virginia post play, sparked an 11-4 Bears run, closing the gap to a single point and forcing Coach Bob Huggins to call a timeout.

The Mountaineers would ride out the Baylor surge from the free throw line, maintaining a 26-22 advantage with 6:53 remaining in the half.

Harris continued his recent streak of connecting with insane shots shortly following the timeout, swishing a deep three pointer from NBA range. The basket helped push the Mountaineers' lead even further ahead, up 31-26 with 5:30 remaining.

Baylor would mount a quick comeback, however, tying the contest at 31 in short order with a three pointer from Royce O'Neale. I appeared that the Bears would put together another run prior to the final media timeout.

But Harris would again ease the concerns of those in attendance with another deep three pointer, putting the Mountaineers up 36-33 with 3:18 remaining in the half.

West Virginia would turn up the heat defensively to close out the half, holding the Bears to three points in the final three minutes. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers managed to put together strong stretch as time expired, ending the half with a corner three from Adrian. The Adrian basket sent West Virginia into the locker room with a 42-36 halftime lead.

Once the second half got underway, both squads would bounce momentum back and forth, with Baylor taking the edge in the first four minutes. The Bears would quickly carve into the five-point deficit with continued domination in the post from Isaiah Austin.

A dunk from the Baylor big man forced Coach Huggins to call his first timeout of the half, with the Mountaineers clinging to a 45-44 lead at the 16:24 mark.

Baylor would again even up the contest at 47 with a corner kickout to Cory Jefferson for three. Jefferson would follow that basket up on the ensuing Baylor offensive possession, matching a Harris layup to tie the contest once again at 49.

The Bears would grab their first lead of the half several possessions later, with Rico Gathers going 2-2 from the free throw line to give his squad a 52-51 lead. The lead would only last a few seconds, however, before a circus three pointer from Harris put the Mountaineers back on top - 54-52.

From that point on, however, Baylor would put together its own strong run. A three pointer from O'Neale gave the Bears their largest lead of the game, putting the visiting squad up 59-54 with 10:50 remaining.

West Virginia would cut into this deficit with a long jumper from Juwan Staten, sending the teams into the timeout at the 9:59 mark with a 59-56 Baylor lead.

O'Neale continued to be a thorn in the side of the Mountaineers as the clock ticked away, with the Baylor big man connecting on a corner three exiting the timeout. The Bears would tack on spinning layup on the ensuing possession, extending the lead to six points and forcing Huggins to call a timeout.

Baylor would extend its lead to as much as eight points before West Virginia would have a chance to answer. Continuing his recent streak of unbelievable shooting, Harris put the offense on his shoulders, connecting with two deep threes in a matter of seconds, bringing the Mountaineers back to within two points. The run from Harris forced the Bears to call a timeout, clinching to a 67-65 lead with 7:13 remaining.

The West Virginia run would not be sustained for long, as Baylor continued to punch the Mountaineers in the mouth thanks to a strong post presence. Following Harris' three-point spurt, the Bears put together a 7-0 run, giving them a 76-68 lead at the final media timeout.

West Virginia would try to find some last ditch magic behind the arc in the final minutes, but it would ultimately be all for naught. Baylor continued to pound the Mountaineers down low as they cruised in the final seconds to victory.

Final: Baylor 88, West Virginia 75.

The Mountaineers will return to action Wednesday as they travel to Norman to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. Tipoff is set for 8pm.


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