The Bears ultimately knocked off WVU 80-60, using a 25-10 run in the middle of the second half to turn what had been a close game into a rout.
It was sharpshooting guard Brady Heslip who powered BU to the victory, knocking down six 3-pointers on the way to a 20-point night. He got considerable help from big man Rico Gathers, who scored a career-high 22 points and frustrated the Mountaineers all game long.
The two Baylor players came into the game averaging 8.3 and 5.8 points per game respectively.
“I think when things don’t go our way, I don’t think we fight through them very well in all honesty,” Huggins told the Mountaineer Sports Network, referring to his team’s second half showing. “You go over there to the bench, and I’m trying to get them, kind of, ‘Don’t quit, don’t quit. We’re in it. We’re in it.’ The guys, they’re just sitting there. They’re not really ready to fight through it.”
Player of the Game
That was true of the adversity WVU faced in the second half on Thursday night -- and the officiating all night long.
Again, West Virginia’s big men found themselves in considerable foul trouble all night long. Kevin Noreen and Aaric Murray both had three fouls in the first half. All told, WVU was whistled for 23 personal fouls.
Frustration with the officiating was evident. Ultimately, Deniz Kilicli allowed his emotions to get the better of him, as he was whistled for a technical foul after throwing the ball to no one in particular after being called for a personal foul.
“For whatever it’s worth, it would be nice if there was some consistency from game to game,” Huggins said. “That would help. That would help. You go from the Texas game that was very physical to [this]. That’s what I’ve said. I don’t know what to do. I mean, if you can’t stand there with your hands up, what are you supposed to do?
“I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. Here’s the thing: they said the scoring is low, so we have to have more freedom of movement. Well nobody wants to watch people shoot 80 free throws. Nobody wants to watch that. Who wants to watch a game take four hours? You know? Oh well.”
For the Mountaineers, Eron Harris led the way with 19 points on an efficient 6-of-9 performance from the field. He made a trio of 3-pointers. Kilicli added 13 more to go with five rebounds. No other WVU players scored more than eight points, and only one -- Jabarie Hinds -- managed more than five.
“I think our freshmen are going to be fine. I really do. We’re counting on a sophomore class that consistently hasn’t gotten it done,” Huggins said.
The Mountaineers (12-12, 5-6 Big 12) turned the ball over 18 times over what Huggins referred to as “a halfcourt defense that you can run offense against.” Baylor scored 23 points off turnovers, compared to only 11 such points for WVU.
The Bears (16-8, 7-4) showed far better poise with the ball, assisting on 23 of their 27 field goals overall. Point guard Pierre Jackson finished with 15 points and nine assists.
“We just throw the ball around,” Huggins said. “We don’t pass the ball, we throw the ball. We’ve got guys open everywhere.
“I told them in there -- it’s sickening to watch. It’s sickening for me to watch. It’s not basketball. We play like guys that never played who go to the YMCA and think they’re really good players. That’s what we play like. It’s sickening. I shouldn’t say that, I know, because then I get all the crap, but you know what ... oh, man.”
West Virginia fell to 1-9 against the RPI top 100 with the loss. Its best win this season in terms of RPI came against Eastern Kentucky (No. 70) on Dec. 30. It also beat RPI No. 109 Oakland on Dec. 19. Those are the Mountaineers’ only wins over teams in the top 150 of the RPI.