The Dominion Post  

Carter, Mountaineers pull out win vs. Baylor

Created on:   Wed, Jan 10, 2018   12:17 AM

Last modified:   Wed, Jan 10, 2018   12:16 AM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Jevon Carter nailed the go-ahead 3-pointer and then the clinching free throws, and the WVU men’s basketball team survived Baylor’s “Pacer” in the final seconds.

All in all, just another normal night in the Big 12. The Mountaineers used some grittiness and a cast of characters made some crucial plays down the stretch to survive Baylor and a rough shooting game for a 57-54 victory Jan. 9, in front of 12,551 fans inside the WVU Coliseum.

“That’s pretty much what we expect every game in this league,” said WVU guard James “Beetle” Bolden, who came away with a crucial steal that teammate Daxter Miles Jr. kept alive with 1:11 remaining. “If the game doesn’t come down to the end, that’s unusual.”

None of it was secured until the final buzzer. After Carter made two free throws with four seconds left for the final score, Baylor guard Jake Lindsey threw a 65-foot pass to teammate Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., who flipped it to Manu Lecomte, who fired an open 3-pointer that was just short.

It’s a play first designed by Homer Drew, the father of Baylor coach Scott Drew, and used by Valparaiso to upset Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament.

“We made that one,” Scott Drew said. “It’s similar. All you want to do is give yourself a look. We’ll live and die with Manu shooting that shot. He makes it more than he misses it.”

Playing its first game as the No. 2-ranked team in the country for the first time since 1959, the Mountaineers (15-2, 4-0 Big 12) did not disappoint and kept it interesting throughout.

After surviving a cold 2 for 12 shooting start, the Mountaineers erased a 13-4 deficit by using a score-by-committee system and forcing 21 turnovers.

While the Bears were able to take advantage of their size on the inside and make some timely shots on the outside, WVU made enough key plays down the stretch to win it.

Bolden and Miles may have combined for the most crucial moment, with 1:11 remaining.

With the game tied at 51, Baylor guard Mark Vital came up with a steal and began to race down the court for what looked like an easy lay-up.

Bolden somehow got his hand on the ball and jarred it loose. Miles then came out of nowhere and kept the ball from going out of bounds by flipping it back over his head while he was flying underneath the basket.

“A lot of effort and a little bit of luck,” said Miles, who scored 12 points and added five assists. “We actually practice that a lot. I saw Beetle was going to chase him down and I just tried to save it. I knew how far under the basket I was, but I saw two white jerseys, so I just tried to throw it in that direction.”

Moments later, Carter came off a screen set by Sagaba Konate and connected on the go-ahead 3-pointer in front of the WVU bench with 57 seconds left.

The result? WVU extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 15 games and now has its second-ever 4-0 start to Big 12 play.

Baylor (11-5, 1-3), meanwhile, fell to 0-18 all-time against top 2-ranked teams in the AP poll, while the Bears’ five losses this season came against teams no lower than No. 16 in this week’s rankings.

“Another typical Big 12 game,” Drew said. “Great teams, great players and a great atmosphere. We didn’t take care of the ball well enough to win the game. You have to credit them for the plays they made. Obviously, Carter had that big 3.”

Gang-scoring is becoming a sort of calling card for the Mountaineers, leading head coach Bob Huggins to liken his group to a golf scramble.

“Not everyone has to hit a good shot,” Huggins said. “You just need one to step up. We usually find one.”

Carter, who struggled with a 2 for 7 shoooting night, made the one that counted most, giving him eight points for the game along with five assists.

Lamont West added 12 points and seven rebounds for WVU, which was held to its lowest point total of the season, shooting just 19 of 61 (31.1 percent).

“Neither team shot the ball very well,” Carter said. “When that happens, it’s kind of an ugly game. Both of us just had bad games. You have to grind it out.”

WVU travels to No. 8 Texas Tech on Saturday, in a game that will see the return of junior forward Esa Ahmad.