Knocking Off Number 1
‘Press’ Virginia blows out Baylor, 89-68, in Morgantown
MORGANTOWN (AP) — Baylor’s euphoria over its ascent to the No. 1 ranking lasted just one day.
Nathan Adrian broke out of a shooting slump with a career-high 22 points, and No. 10 West Virginia beat the sloppy Bears 89-68 on Tuesday night in the program’s first game with the top ranking.
Baylor defeated Iowa State and Oklahoma State last week by a combined six points at home to overtake Villanova for the No. 1 spot when the AP poll came out on Monday.
Against West Virginia, Baylor (15-1, 3-1 Big 12) committed a season-high 29 turnovers — the school record is 31 — and never led in its second true road game of the season. The loss means No. 5 Gonzaga is the only remaining unbeaten team in Division I.
“They just took us out of everything,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “We weren’t overconfident. They just kicked our butt.”
West Virginia (14-2, 3-1) started the second half with an 11-3 run and kept pouring it on, leading by as many as 26 points down the stretch.
Fans rushed the court and sang John Denver’s “Country Roads” after the Mountaineers toppled a top-ranked Big 12 opponent at home for the second straight season. A year ago this week, West Virginia beat Kansas when the Jayhawks were No. 1.
“From the players to the managers, there was nobody in our locker room that didn’t think we should win,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “My hope is we get to the point where it’s expected rather than celebrating.”
Jevon Carter scored 17 points for the Mountaineers, and Brandon Watkins had 11.
Terry Maston, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. and Al Freeman each scored 10 for the Bears.
West Virginia leads the nation with nearly 13 steals and 24 forced turnovers per game. It rotated 13 players against Baylor and finished with 15 steals.
“Press Virginia is real,” Baylor guard Jake Lindsey said. “You can’t let them press you relentlessly without making them pay for it or else it wears you down.”
Drew went one step further.
“I have to say, this team on film, they have been impressive,” Drew said. “But in person, definitely the best pressing team coach Huggins has had. They just make you feel uneasy and uncomfortable.”
The Mountaineers have beaten Baylor three straight times and improved to 5-8 against teams ranked No. 1 in the AP poll.
Baylor: The Bears looked disorganized from the start and lost to a ranked opponent for the first time after four earlier wins. They fell to 1-7 all-time in top-10 matchups. Baylor had overcome five halftime deficits this season, including a 15-point margin against Louisville. But the Bears never made a run after halftime Tuesday.
West Virginia: The scrappy Mountaineers were outrebounded 41-32. But they had 13 more shot attempts than the Bears, which is what Huggins wants every game — more opportunities.
Baylor trimmed an 11-point deficit to 43-37 on Manu Lecomte’s 3-pointer early in the second half, but the Bears made just three field goals over the next nine minutes, helping West Virginia begin to pull away.
Adrian is the fourth different player to lead West Virginia in scoring over the past five games.
He had scored in double figures in just two of his last eight games after starting the season with seven straight such performances. After going 9 of 30 from the floor in his previous four games, he went 7 for 10 against the Bears.
His previous career high was 16 points against William & Mary in 2013.
“It felt good to hit a couple shots,” Adrian said.
Jonathan Motley, Baylor’s leading scorer and rebounder, had his streak of double-doubles stopped at four. He finished with eight points on 3-for-10 shooting and five rebounds. Lecomte had seven points and five turnovers. Ishmail Wainwright had a team-high six turnovers.
Baylor plays at No. 25 Kansas State on Saturday.
West Virginia travels to Texas on Saturday.