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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 27, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: WVU Coliseum (14,000) -- Morgantown, West Virginia. Television: Big 12 Network. Home Record: Baylor 11-4, WVU 8-4. Away Record: Baylor 3-6, WVU 3-7. Neutral Record: Baylor 2-1, WVU 2-3. Conference Record: Baylor 7-7, WVU 6-8. Series Record: Baylor leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The sliding Baylor Bears attempt to get back on the winning track on Wednesday night, as they venture into Morgantown for a Big 12 Conference matchup with the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Baylor was sitting pretty at 14-5 following a Jan. 26 win over TCU, looking like one of the premier teams in the Big 12, but since that point it has been on a steady decline with losses in six of eight tilts. The Bears dropped their third straight game last Saturday at Oklahoma, 90-76, to dip to 16-11 overall and 7-7 in conference.
WVU has done a solid job treading water in its first season as a member of the Big 12, but at 13-14 overall and 6-8 in league action, it is hardly considered a legitimate contender for the conference crown. The Mountaineers have fallen in three of their last four games, which includes Saturday's 73-57 defeat at home to nationally-ranked Oklahoma State.
These two teams met for the just second time two weeks ago when Baylor knocked off West Virginia on Feb. 13 (80-60), extending its lead in the all-time series to 2-0 as a result.
The Bears never had a shot in their latest game, as they fell behind by a demoralizing 47-21 margin at the half and could never recover on their way to a 14-point loss to Oklahoma. They salvaged a poor first 20 minutes with a solid second half, shooting 46.2 percent from the field to make the game seem much closer than it was. Pierre Jackson's final stat line appeared impressive (28 points, eight rebounds), but he shot just 8-of-23 from the floor, which included a lowly 3-of-13 effort from 3-point range. Isaiah Austin tallied 15 points and three blocks, while Brady Heslip scored 11 points in the setback. On the season, Baylor has one of the Big 12's top offenses, as it nets 75.3 ppg on greater than 45 percent field goal efficiency, and while the scoring defense has typically been solid (65.7 ppg), the squad has allowed 81 points or more in each contest during its current three-game skid. Jackson is arguably the conference's top player, ranking first in both scoring (19.2 ppg) and assists (6.4 apg). Austin (13.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg) and Cory Jefferson (12.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.0 bpg) are one of the most feared frontcourt duos in the nation.
The Mountaineers battled hard in the first half of their game against Oklahoma State, going into intermission with only a two-point deficit, but they lost control of the contest after the break as they were eventually saddled with the 16-point defeat. They shot a poor 30.2 percent from the field, and the blowout would have been even greater had it not been for their strong 21-of-26 showing from the foul line. The only players to net in double figures were Aaric Murray (11 points) and Matt Humphrey (10 points), both of whom came off the bench. WVU ranks in the lower-half of the Big 12 in both scoring offense (65.8 ppg) and scoring defense (66.1 ppg), and it is one of just four teams in the conference with a negative scoring margin (-0.3). The Mountaineers are the rare team without a double-digit scorer, but they benefit from a deep rotation, with seven players scoring at least 7.5 ppg. Murray (9.2 ppg) is consistent on the boards (6.4 rpg) and at the defensive end (1.5 bpg, 0.9 spg), while Deniz Kilicli (8.8 ppg) is averaging 15.3 ppg over the last four outings.
WVU has won twice as many games at home as it has lost (8-4), but its only home wins in conference play has come against fellow league bottom-dwellers Texas Tech, TCU and Texas. Baylor hasn't been itself of late, and it could be in for more struggles on the road in this one, but figure for the Bears' playmakers to come up big down the stretch.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 70, West Virginia 64
02/27 10:35:15 ET
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