Baylor beats West Virginia 65-62 in Morgantown to keep a glimmer of NCAA hope

USA TODAY Sports

The Bears had to overcome not hitting a single field goal in the last seven minutes of the game and a Random White Guy Having the Game of His Life to win, but they did it in a typical Bob Huggins Ugly Classic. I capitalized too many words in that sentence.

If you watched the entire game, from A.J. Walton's first field goal to WVU's desperation three that Isaiah Austin blocked, you're a much stronger person, and probably fan, than I am. At one point, Baylor got up 6 only to go down by 9 before seemingly righting the ship in the second half. The usual suspect, Pierre Jackson, actually didn't lead the Bears to victory tonight as they won mostly on the strength of the best Isaiah Austin performance we've seen in quite a while. Not only did he score 21 points, he also added 2 blocks (including the one I mentioned), 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Baylor had to win this game and did largely because he made it so. Kudos to him and to Walton, who I would be remiss not to mention in light of the fact that he very nearly carried Baylor back into this game with 10 points of his own.

Baylor (17-11, 8-7) has the faintest of hopes to still make the NCAA Tournament with 3 conference games and the Big 12 Tournament remaining. We still get to play Texas, albeit in Austin, in a game that we should win. That's 18 wins with 9 coming in Big 12 play should we pull it off. But that game is sandwiched by home bouts with Kansas and Kansas State, the top two teams in the conference at the moment, both of whom beat the Bears badly earlier in the season. Win either of those games and grab one in the conference tournament and I'd feel pretty good about our chances for a low seed. Lose both and we need at least one win in the conference tournament to guarantee the NIT and more than that to have a realistic shot at the Big Dance.

The bottom line is that by winning tonight we're in a better position than we were before or would have been had we lost, obviously, but it's still not great. This is where early season losses to College of Charleston and Northwestern look really bad in retrospect and missed opportunities against Colorado, Gonzaga (a likely #1 seed), Oklahoma State, and Iowa State hurt. To the extent it's possible, Baylor controls its own destiny, but the chips are very clearly stacked against us. Good win tonight, though.

Baylor's next game is against Kansas State in Waco on Saturday.

Baylor Bears
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Cory Jefferson, F 25 2-4 0-0 3-5 5 11 0 0 1 1 3 7
Isaiah Austin, C 34 8-14 2-5 3-4 3 6 3 1 2 0 2 21
A.J. Walton, G 24 5-8 0-0 0-0 1 2 1 1 0 2 5 10
Brady Heslip, G 23 1-8 0-6 2-2 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 4
Pierre Jackson, G 37 4-13 1-5 6-6 0 6 5 0 0 4 3 15
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Gary Franklin, G 21 1-1 1-1 1-2 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 4
Deuce Bello, G 9 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 0
Rico Gathers, F 21 2-3 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 0 1 1 1 4
L.J. Rose, G 6 0-2 0-1 0-0 1 1 2 0 0 0 1 0
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
23-53 4-18 15-19 11 29 13 4 5 8 20 65
43.4% 22.2% 78.9%
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