WVU Gameday Blog

WVU v. Baylor: Don’t blow it!


You are looking live at a neat pregame scene at the Coliseum. The Big 12 Network crew was taping the intro it plugs in at the start of the game and the students assembled behind the shot and blew bubbles in the background. Because they’re on the bubble! I’m not certain the recoiling Stephen Howard would agree, but I like it. I endorse it. I even condone the giveaway pom poms for the students today. Nothing wrong with that. Better than T-shirts.

Baylor, dressed in black and neon green today, came a long way with a three-game winning streak. WVU’s past two home crowds haven’t been very big, but they’ve been rowdy and they’ve affected the game at appropriate points. Bubbles and pom poms are a good start.

Bad start? Well, WVU isn’t healthy and will be short-handed today.

Divisive as he can be, that’s a big, big blow. Whether he’s on or off, he’s still a body in a role that takes minutes that don’t belong going to someone else.

Positive? I guess you don’t have to worry about him checking out during the game. But that’s it. WVU is not better with this development.  

No one’s told me anything about Devin Williams and his status, but he took time and care to get loose and he looked really stiff in the brief warm up I saw him going through.

Losing Henderson doesn’t really force WVU to change its game plan or make the Mountaineers appreciably worse off for the game and at the mercy of the opposition. It would behoove the Mountaineers to have an able Williams in the paint. Baylor is big and has been wise to use its size in its three-game winning streak.

 The Mountaineers (15-11, 7-6 Big 12) gave up 23 baskets in the paint and a season-high 57.9 percent shooting and were outrebounded 41-26 as they lost to the Longhorns by 17 points.

That’s followed WVU through its week off as it prepares for Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game against Baylor at the Coliseum (WQCW in Charleston). The Bears (17-9, 5-8) have won three straight games after losing seven out of eight. Included in the losses was a home loss in which they outrebounded WVU by 10, but were outscored 28-14 in the paint.

In the past three wins, Baylor has outrebounded teams by 27, 14 and 15 and scored 28, 38 and 28 points in the paint. Huggins likened the challenge of playing the Texas frontcourt to playing the Baylor frontcourt.

“I think it is similar,” Huggins said. “They do a great job protecting the rim and they’re a terrific offensive rebounding team.”

Remember, WVU outscored the Bears 28-14 in the paint in Waco. It would seem Baylor has sought to cure that problem, but this is also the Big 12’s best 3-point shooting team and the Bears sometimes fall out of love with easy shots and fall in love with 3-point shots. WVU will take that.

WVU will also take the ball from Baylor. The Bears turn the ball over a lot and WVU had a 18-0 scoring edge off turnovers in the first game between these two. The Mountaineers have to manufacture extra possessions and capitalize on them when they’re going to give up offensive rebounds and points in the paint.

At stake today? It’s probably, if not definitely, a must-win for both squads if they hope to entertain at-large NCAA Tournament possibilities. A win gives Baylor 18 wins with four games to go. A loss gives the Bears (17-9, 5-8) nine Big 12 losses. Hard to consider a team that’s not .500 in the Big 12 as an at-large team.

As for WVU (15-11, 7-6), it’s obviously not in the same bubble position that it was at this time last week. A loss does more damage and, if we’re being honest, makes it at least possible WVU goes to Kansas City at 16-15 — don’t tell me the team that loses today can be expected to navigate Iowa State and Oklahoma on the road and Kansas at home. If 16-15 WVU then loses in the first game of the Big 12 Tournament, the NIT is no guarantee. Only three of the past 256 NIT teams have been fewer than two games above .500 (one was 16-15 St. John’s last year and it was a No. 5 seed).

So with that in mind, suppose WVU goes 3-2 in the final five regular-season games. That’s a 17-14 record in Kansas City. Even a 1-1 record makes them three-games above .500, which seems to be the line to toe here and what makes today kind of a big deal.

Onto the post, which is also kind of a big deal.



Mike Casazza February 22, 20144:44 pm

WVU has 45 baskets past two games. Opponents have 42 baskets in the paint, 65 overall.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:39 pm

That’s the end of the game with Baylor winning 88-75 and the end of WVU’s NCAA Tournament run barring the unexpected in K.C. — which, no, is not impossible, but also mot likely, either.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:37 pm

Baylor has five players with at least five points this half.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:37 pm

And Adrian does the inexcusable. Left Heslip wide open at the end of the shot clock for a 3. WVU got one basket (3bo) and five points (Williams free throws) from players not named Staten and Harris this half. That’ll do it.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:31 pm

Also, where’s Brandon Watkins?

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:30 pm

And there’s no defending Austin today. He posts Dibo up again and scores again and will have a free throw up 76-68 with 3:26 to go. Lots and lots of people leaving. Good fans with good seats.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:27 pm

…3bo! My bad.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:27 pm

Dibo miss, Austin post up score and this one us jusssssst about over.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:26 pm

Timely reminder: WVU’s largest deficit overcome in win is seven points. O’Neale’s putback makes it 72-65 with 4:59 to go.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:23 pm

You have to let Harris shoot that, which Austin seemed to understand. O’Neale’s 3 was in transition, so the critic in me can live with that decision. But WVU hasn’t been able to sit down and defend Baylor. I have no idea what Baylor’s rush is here otherwise.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:22 pm

Baylor is maddening. Cherry shoots a 3. Jefferson skies for the rebound and can’t move Noreen, but still shoots it and has it stuffed.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:19 pm

Harris has 30 with 7:04 to go.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:19 pm

Harris counters with a 3 and Jefferson, for some unknown reason, chicks one. Harris makes another and it’s 67-65. Baylor needs a timeout and Jefferson needs a seat.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:18 pm

Dagger? Out of the timeout, Heslip bangs a right-side 3 for a 67-59 lead.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:17 pm

And this is why losing Henderson hurts. Not only is he out and not scoring, but he’s not playing. WVU is in a fight right now and looks tired. The only guy who can spell Harris or Staten is Browne and he’s on the floor with them.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:15 pm

WVU is in peril now. Franklin spins one in to make it 64-58 and Huggins knows it. Timeout with 8:43 to go.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:14 pm

Right side. O’Neale. 3.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:13 pm

Staten and Harris have 15 of WVU’s 16 points this half as Baylor leads 59-58 with 9:59 to go.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:09 pm

Uh oh. Staten-to-Noreen turnover, Cherry layup, Staten miss, O’Neale 3 and it’s a 59-55 lead.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:06 pm

Harris 3 at 12:50. That’s an 18-second deficit.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:06 pm

After four fouls in the first half, WVU is in the bonus at 13:08 and Gathers goes 2-for-2 to regain the lead 52-51.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:03 pm

Franklin, a nice player who doesn’t get to do anything on this team, goes 1-for-2 at the foul line for a 50-49 lead. WVU hadn’t trailed since 15:11 mark of the first half and did so for 19 seconds.

This lead lasts seven seconds before Staten foes 2-for-2.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20143:02 pm

And Harris answers a Jefferson 3 with a tricky jumper for 21 points and a shot at 30. But Jefferson, who has the look of a guy who things he can score on anyone in white, ties the game with a layup, but misses his free throw.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:58 pm

And credit WVU for having a good plan and execution out of the timeout. Screen for Staten, who was open on a curl, but had to reach back for Adrian’s pass. Staten still fed to Williams in the post and Williams spun and hit a cutting Harris for a bandage layup.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:55 pm

Worth noting WVU is 0-for-5 this half, too. You can see some defensive problems following players around on offense … or to the bench,

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:54 pm

And we have eight total fouls at the 16:24 mark, which is ridiculous because it was so predictable. Lots of iffy calls here.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:54 pm

And Adrian loses Austin on a really simple high screen … but to be honest, I’m sort of stunned Austin rolled. But Adrian has been pretty poor defensively.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:51 pm

Baylor is taking candy, but Jefferson has to post up and force one and Austin has to grab the rebound and spin around and force one. Why?

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:49 pm

Sixty-two seconds in here, four fouls.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:49 pm

But these are Baylor plays. WVU has to know they’re coming and must not be doing what it has to do.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:48 pm

And here comes Adrian for Dibo. Two subs, 45 seconds.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:47 pm

That was Adrian’s first, by the way. My guess is WVU figured he’d be targeted and he did nothing about following the orders given to him.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:47 pm

Interesting Huggins started Browne in the second half and pulls Adrian after nine seconds and, you guessed it, a foul.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:46 pm

The bad news? Six point lead and so many easy scores for Baylor. We’ll see what Scott Drew is made of here. And well see what the officials are made of, too. Baylor had eight fouls in the first half, WVU had four.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:44 pm

Add it up and WVU has a ridiculous 1.448 ppp so far.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:43 pm

Hey, so far, so god for WVU. Outrebounding the Big 12’s leader in rebounding margin, 14-12, and has a 10-4 lead in second-chance points. Possessions matter when the scores come so easily for the opponent (57.1 percent so far for Baylor) and WVU has just one turnovers and has eight points off Baylor’s four turnovers.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:32 pm

In three halves of basketball this season, WVU is outscoring Baylor 26-0 on points off turnovers.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:31 pm

And just like that, Adrian redeems. A lob inside should be a Noreen layup, but he Beileins it and kicks to Adrian for a 3. Baylor misses a 3 at the buzzer and WVU leads 42-36 at the half.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:29 pm

Not Adrian’s day of late. A very weak lefty layup is swatted by Austin on what was a 2-on-1 break.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:28 pm

WVU doesn’t have the third scorer in uniform, so far, but the foul line has been a great ally. Brown snatches a miss and goes straight up with it and nearly gets a three-point play. The shot rolled out and he went 1-for-2 at the line.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:26 pm

Austin posts up Dibo and gets two free throws, Baylor’s first of the day with 1:47 to go in the half. He goes 1-for-2. WVU is 9-for-10.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:24 pm

Five straight made shots for Baylor, too, which exasperates that Gathers drive-charge there. Move the
ball, gang.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:23 pm

The difference, really, is WVU is 5-for-7 from 3. Baylor is 3-for-7 and trailed 36-33. But the Bears are shooting 60 percent with 20 points in the paint.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:21 pm

And Adrian gets schooled on the same two-pass-dunk combo again. Baylor is getting really easy scores. WVU is not, save for when Harris drops an open 3. But those to count. WVU is up 36-33.

Yet the hallmark of this Bears performance is they make it harder than it ought to be.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:19 pm

Ties 31-31 and WVU is having a hard time getting baskets here.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:18 pm

Baylor’s bigs just do not roll when they screen. It took Austin 30 seconds on the possession to do so. And he got a layup.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:17 pm

And really, with the lack of fouls and turnovers (three total), this is a clean game. WVU, though, has a 5-0 lead on points off turnovers. That’s two baskets on both Baylor turnovers.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:16 pm

Baylor’s down 26-24 with 16 points in the paint.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:15 pm

Hey, seven total fouls at the 6:53 mark.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:13 pm

A bold Browne seems to have it in his head that Heslip cannot guard him. He drives and flips one in for a 26-22 lead.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:09 pm

And Williams goes up and actually tries to dunk and gets two free throws. Neither of those things happen very often.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:08 pm

Adrian and Williams just did an awful job in the span of about 20 seconds to derail WVU’s momentum. Gathers DROVE on Williams and missed but Adrian let O’Neal get the easy put back. Williams then took the open 15 footer — open for a reason lately? — and missed and he and Adrian got beat down the floor as Gathers dunked. Timeout, Huggins.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:06 pm

…and Austin, who JUST dunked, decided to go 1-on-3 and pushed a one hander off the glass long.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:05 pm

Out of the timeout, two passes and an open dunk for Baylor. When they want, they can move the ball very well.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:03 pm

I don’t know how to explain what just happened, but Staten split the defense and went to the rim before two Bears put hands on him. The ball went out off Staten and the officials decided to give Baylor the ball.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:01 pm

Heslip 3 on an inbound. Caught Harris napping.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20142:00 pm

Staten layup and Baylor needs a timeout down 17-9. Honestly, Baylor can pound WVU inside. But instead Cory Jefferson is fading back on screens and chucking 20 footers when he and the guy he screened for — 6-7 Taurean Prince — are far from the hoop. The Mountaineers will let that happen all game.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20141:58 pm

And Gary Brown steals the ball and goes right at the basket for two free throws and a 15-9 lead early here. WVU seems to have a plan for the zone and is doing a good job just guarding Baylor’s hard-to-decipher offense.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20141:56 pm

Henderson isn’t even on the bench.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20141:53 pm

And there’s a 3. Harris disappeared behind a Austin screen and Baylor goes up 9-8, but Harris pumps and steps in for a long two. They’re settling in quickly here. Baylor hasn’t played since Monday, WVU since Saturday.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20141:52 pm

Williams dribbled through the zone and hit Adrian for an open 3. Big minutes early for Adrian. Baylor’s first six points are in the paint and WVU leads 8-6.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20141:50 pm

Baylor mucking it up with a zone, but Adrian has two offensive rebounds early.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20141:48 pm

Actually, the stats say 5-22.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20141:48 pm

Baylor wins the jump and WVU is 1-26 on the jump this season.

Mike Casazza February 22, 20141:45 pm

Starters: Staten, Williams, Harris, Dibo and Adrian.