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MBB Falls by Three at No. 2 West Virginia


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By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation

​For 39 minutes, West Virginia point guard Jevon Carter had scored just three points and missed five of his first six shots as the second-ranked Mountaineers were fighting desperately to live up to their highest ranking in 58 years.

​But, as he's done countless times in his remarkable career, Carter hit the big shot.

​After James Bolden forced Baylor's 21st turnover, Carter made the Baylor Bears pay for the mistake with a go-ahead 3-pointer as West Virginia (15-1, 4-0) survived to win its national-best 15th in a row, 57-54, Tuesday night before a crowd of 12,551 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W. Va.

​"We said in the huddle, `It's Carter time,' so big players make big plays and that's why they're good players,'' said Baylor head coach Scott Drew, whose team fell to 11-5 overall and 1-3 in the Big 12. "I'll be really happy to see him walk across that stage and graduate, by the way."

​Even after Carter's 3-pointer, Baylor had a chance to tie it when Jake Lindsey drained a corner trey to pull the Bears within one, 55-54, with 4.0 seconds left in regulation.

​After Carter knocked down a pair of free throws, Lindsey threw a perfect strike near the top of the circle to 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil, who flipped to Manu Lecomte for an open 3-pointer from the left wing. Lecomte, who hit his first three 3-point attempts and finished with a game-high 13 points, missed long and right of the basket as time expired.

​"It was a great play, ran by Coach Drew," Lecomte said. "We practice it a lot because it can happen any game. Especially in the Big 12, it's going to be close at the end every time. It's a play we practice a lot, and it ran perfectly. I got an open shot. I missed it, but it was a great by pass by Jo and I had an open look."

​Both teams struggled on the offensive end, particularly down the stretch. The Bears were just 1-of-9 from the floor in the last eight minutes, while West Virginia shot 31 percent for the game, missed 10 of its last 12 shots and scored a season-low 57 points.

​"We know we can play with anybody in the country," Drew said. "There are no moral victories, and you don't feel good after losses, but I do feel good about how our team competed and the leadership of our players. . . . Until we can take care of the basketball, you're not going to beat quality teams with 21 turnovers."

​One year ago, a then-No. 1 Baylor team turned it over 29 times in an 89-68 loss at West Virginia. The Bears cut that number down to 21, but 20 of the Mountaineers' 57 points came off Baylor's turnovers.

​"It didn't help," Lecomte said of the turnovers. "They got more shots than us because we turned it over a little bit too many times. We have to work on that. But, I think our intensity and our togetherness was great. We really played as a team. We fought hard. We beat them on the boards (44-36), so that's really positive."

​Baylor got out to a great start, hitting five of its first eight shots and going up 13-4 on a Lecomte 3-pointer. The Bears kept the lead through most of the first half before West Virginia closed with a 9-3 run over the last five minutes and tied it up at 29-29 on a Bolden 3-pointer.

​With Baylor going without a field goal for almost four minutes, the Mountaineers took a 35-31 lead early in the second half when Chase Harler fed Lamont West for a layup. But, they were never able to pull away.

​Nuni Omot drained a 3-pointer from the corner that made it a one-point game, 48-47, and Baylor tied it at 49-49 on a pair of Tristan Clark free throws after Mark Vital took a hard foul and left the floor grabbing his right elbow.

​The Bears had chances to take the lead, but Lecomte turned it over once, missed an open 3-pointer and also the front end of a one-and-one situation.

​Baylor's senior point guard did tie it up again at 51-51 on a pair of free throws at the 2:23 mark, keeping the Bears' hopes alive for their first-ever win over a top-2 team.

​Vital had a breakaway opportunity off a turnover by Sagaba Konate, but a hustling Bolden poked the ball out from behind and Daxter Miles saved it back inbounds to Carter. Coming off a Konate screen, Carter then gave the Mountaineers the lead for good.

​"Just like I drew it up," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said jokingly. "Our young guys have a tendency to get out of sorts. (Carter) took it upon himself to make a play."

​West and Miles had 12 points apiece for West Virginia, while Konate had eight points, 12 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks. Lual-Acuil notched his Big 12-high eighth double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

​Baylor finishes off a two-game road swing with a matchup against Iowa State (9-6, 0-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Ames before hosting Oklahoma State (11-4, 1-2) at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15. The Cyclones took 12th-ranked Kansas down to the wire in Lawrence before falling, 83-78.



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