Led by Makai Mason’s season high 29 points, Baylor 12-6 (4-2) beat West Virginia 9-10 (1-6) 85-73. Baylor takes on Alabama at 11:00 on Saturday in the Ferrell Center.
Mason was superb all night. He worked his way deep into the paint and made ridiculous running jumpers. He scored his 29 points on 16 shots. He also handled the ball well, which led to just two first half turnovers for the Bears. Two years ago, No. 1 ranked Baylor had 29 turnovers in Morgantown.
West Virginia returned to their press roots and came back in the second half. Baylor led 59-38, and then the Bears kept turning it over. The turned it over on 8-of-11 possessions. That brought the game to 65-55 at the under eight timeout. Baylor made a few big offensive plays to re-extend the lead.
MARIO KEGLER with the HUGE and-1 after WVU cut Baylor's lead to 8. Bears lead 75-65, 3:26 to play with Kegler at the line after a timeout. Kegler has 11 points and 7 rebounds.#SicWVU | #1TGF pic.twitter.com/GCGSZOMEmk— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) January 22, 2019
Mario Kegler had a great final eight minutes and finished with 18 points. He nabbed an offensive rebound and laid it in during one Mountaineer run. He also hit a layup and made the free throw to give Baylor a 76-65 lead with 3:26 left. On Baylor’s next possession, he drew a foul on a dunk attempt.
West Virginia made one final run. They cut it to 78-69 with 1:25 left. King McClure, fresh off winning Big 12 Player of the Week, had a few bad turnovers late (Baylor had 16 in the second half) and missed a spinning layup too. But West Virginia missed both free throw attempts to try and cut the deficit to seven.
The Bears were harmed by foul trouble all night. Baylor had 16 first half fouls. Kegler hit a 3-point shot early in the game, then he was whistled for a technical foul for staring at West Virginia’s bench. Mark Vital had two fouls early in the half as well; he played most of the second half with four fouls. McClure and Freddie Gillespie picked up three fouls in the first half. The Mountaineers went 14-of-22 from the line in the period. That was all that kept them in the game. But Baylor led 46-31 at intermission.
Baylor handled their free throw shooting woes by grabbing offensive boards. Baylor went 4-of-14 from the free throw line in the first half. But the Bears grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Those led to extra possessions, including a big three from Devonte Bandoo. He finished with 13 points.
This was a massive win for Baylor. They shot below 30% from three and still won by double digits against a top 100 KenPom team. Baylor seemed like they weren’t going to even make the NIT two weeks ago. Then they lost their best player. Now the Bears are on the path to making the NCAA Tournament.