No. 1 Baylor (23-1, 12-0) knocked off West Virginia (18-7, 6-6) 70-59. The Mountaineers made plenty of garbage time shots to make that score appear far closer than this game ever was. With the win, Baylor has won 22 straight games. No Big 12 team—all 269 times a squad has played a season of basketball in the Big 12—has ever won more games in a row. The Bears will take on Oklahoma at 8:00 on Tuesday in Norman.
The Bears built a massive lead in the first half. They did that even though they were shorthanded in the half. MaCio Teague missed the game with a wrist injury he suffered against Texas; he’s day-to-day. Mark Vital picked up his second foul at the sixteen minute timeout and missed most of the half.
Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and Matt Mayer took over on offense. Butler finished the half with 16 of Baylor’s 33 points. After struggling from the field the last few games, he started 4-of-5 from three. Davion Mitchell added nine points, including a brilliant 3-point make. And Matt Mayer threw down a slam that rocked the building:
The Bears’ defense played well in the first half. They held West Virginia to just .63 points per possession, which is well below the nation’s worst offense averages (.79). Mayer picked up a big charge. Tristan Clark did too. Freddie Gillespie and Flo Thamba battled to limit the Mountaineers’ big men. West Virginia ended the half on an 8-0 run, but with Baylor down a few men and missing some good looks, the Mountaineers were inevitably going to make some run.
Baylor took control in the second half. West Virginia didn’t make a field goal until 9:50 into the second half. The Bears rotations were crisp, and they got out and ran. Mayer made layups, Mitchell kept getting to the hoop, and the Bears built their lead to 28.
West Virginia unleashed an 8-0 run, highlighted by a pair of triples, but Baylor responded. Freddie Gillespie made a turnaround jumper, and any thought that West Virginia might make things interesting was gone.
West Virginia started the second half 4-of-7 from three. It didn’t matter. The Bears were too good at everything else. When Mayer has 13 points—something that seems like a possibility on more days than today—good luck to everyone else. When Clark can play like today it’s over too. Add in Butler’s 22 points and there’s simply no hope for anyone. Mitchell also had a career high nine assists.
Today was a reminder of what Baylor is when they shoot well: the country’s best team. They’ve established that through 24 games. If they keep playing like this, they’ll win the national championship.