The Dominion Post  

Mountaineers weigh good and bad of beating Baylor

Created on:   Wed, Feb 21, 2018   11:55 PM

Last modified:   Wed, Feb 21, 2018   11:55 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — There was much to discuss about the 21st-ranked WVU men’s basketball team, coming out of its 71-60 victory against Baylor, on Feb. 20.

Sophomore forward Sagaba Konate took another leap forward in his defensive progress.

His nine blocks tied a school record and he is now on pace to match the school’s season record of 124.

“It felt great,” said Konate, who just narrowly missed out on a triple-double while adding 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Bears. “I felt like I could do more than that.”

With his next assist — the Mountaineers (20-8, 9-6 Big 12) host Iowa State, at 6 p.m. Saturday — WVU point guard Jevon Carter will become the first player from a major conference to reach 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 steals in a career.

Carter, too, is on pace to set WVU’s season records in steals and assists.

Maybe all of it was overshadowed by thoughts of WVU’s frustrating loss against Kansas just three days earlier and the Mountaineers’ second-half performance against the Bears.

Just when you thought WVU wouldn’t allow another second-half comeback, the Bears (17-11, 7-8) nearly pulled it off, cutting a 28-point deficit down to 12 with 7:35 remaining in the game.

“We can’t keep giving up leads like this,” said Daxter Miles Jr., who connected on a four-point play to put a halt to Baylor’s 21-5 second-half run. “We’ve got to do something about that. We’re going to work on it.”

WVU’s win was almost immediately compared to its loss Saturday, against Kansas, in which the Jayhawks attempted 35 free throws to the Mountaineers’ two. Kansas was whistled for just 14 fouls, while WVU was charged with 26.

“I haven’t recovered, by the way,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “I don’t bounce back like I used to.”

A total of five technical fouls were called; none on Huggins, who was ejected in the final seconds against Kansas.

WVU shot more free throws in the first half Tuesday (seven) than in the entire game against the Jayhawks.

WVU attempted 22 free throws for the game.

The referees in the Baylor game “Must not have been flying out of Waco. They must have been staying the night, because they missed whatever flight they had,” Huggins said, hinting that the referees weren’t in a hurry to get out of town and called a lot of fouls.

“I’m having a hard time figuring out what it is. Somehow we need to get a little more universal and consistent.”

Even with WVU shooting more free throws, the Mountaineers faced another second-half letdown.

After trailing, 48-20, with 18:11 remaining, Baylor got as close as 55-43, until Miles nailed a 3-pointer and was fouled on the play by Bayor’s Nuni Omot.

“That was big,” Carter said. “He’s one of our senior leaders. He stepped up big and he knocked it in.”

“I wasn’t making shots the whole game,” Miles added. “That one felt good coming out of my hand.”

Huggins said Baylor’s defense took some options away from the Mountaineers in the second half.

“The main discussions were not giving up the lead,” Miles said. “Luckily, we were up by 28. They made a big run. Luckily, we were up by so much, so that held them down a little bit.”