As Baylor attempts to regain the successful form it displayed before a lengthy COVID-19-related layoff, challenges continue to mount with an eager West Virginia squad waiting.
Looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season, the visiting No. 3 Bears will try to prevent the No. 6 Mountaineers from getting a fourth straight victory Tuesday night in a Big 12 contest in Morgantown, W.Va.
After battling humble Iowa State during a 77-72 win Feb. 23 in his first game back after a three-week season in COVID-19 protocols, Baylor (18-1, 10-1 Big 12 ), the league leader, fell 71 -58 to No. 17 for Kansas on Saturday. A Bears team that averaged 86.4 points and led the nation with a 43.2 shooting percentage from 3-point range during a school-best 18-0 start, set season lows in points and percentage. shooting from the field (34.8) against the Jayhawks.
Baylor was also outrebounded 48-28 on Saturday, and is just 14 of 51 from 3-point range in the last two games.
“It’s a chemistry game. It’s a timing game,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “At the end of the day, you have to take shots. When the legs go, it’s hard to hit 3s.
“We will get back to that rhythm … Hopefully where we are back to where we were in terms of conditions, in terms of chemistry. Hopefully we will be a better and fresher team at the back.” . “
Despite Saturday’s setback, Baylor needs only one win in its last three games to win its first regular-season conference title since 1950.
“We will be excited to play,” added Drew, whose program last lost consecutive games against qualified teams in March 2019. “We love the opportunity to get back on the court.”
Although second-place West Virginia (17-6, 10-4) is 0-3 against the top 5 teams this season, they were 6-1 overall in February and are coming off a 65-43 win in home to Kansas State for a third straight win.
COVID-19 issues forced the three scheduled – and rescheduled – meetings between these teams to be postponed this season. It looks like they will finally play on Tuesday.
“This is kind of a one-game heavyweight fight,” West Virginia guard Jordan McCabe said. “It’s what you live for. It’s (why) you come to West Virginia. For (these) games to play.
“We’re not afraid of (Baylor). Or shy away from the fact that our goal is to come in and win on Tuesday.”
A win on Tuesday would bring coach Bob Huggins closer to joining the exclusive 900-win club. He has 898 victories. North Carolina coach Roy Williams became the fourth coach to win 900 Division I games when the Tar Heels posted a 78-70 victory over No. 11 Florida State on Saturday.
Williams joined Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight as members of the 900-win club.
Back on the court, the Mountaineers are shooting 43.1 percent this season and held each of their last two opponents to less than 70 points. West Virginia held Kansas State to 15 of 51 shots and forced 18 turnovers.
Baylor star Jared Butler (16.4 points per game, 4.9 assists per game) scored 21 in each of two meetings with West Virginia last season, but was limited to five points, the season low, and missed six. of seven 3-point attempts on Saturday. . His teammate Davion Mitchell (13.4 points per game) totaled 28 points in the two games against the Mountaineers in 2019-20.
Miles McBride is averaging a team-leading 15.5 points for the Mountaineers, but he has totaled 16 in the last two games. Sean McNeil, meanwhile, has scored at least 16 in four of the last five. His teammate Emmitt Matthews Jr. is averaging 7.7 points, but he scored 18 in last season’s win over Baylor.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.