Mountaineers head to Lone Star State to battle Bears

Waco, TX ( - A pair of top-20 programs from the Big 12 Conference get together at the Ferrell Center on Saturday afternoon, as the Baylor Bears host the West Virginia Mountaineers.


On of three teams tied for second place in the Big 12 with a record of 10-5, the 20th-ranked Mountaineers have won three straight decisions and four of the last five, thanks to a 71-64 final over Texas at home four nights ago. West Virginia, which is chasing league-leading Kansas, has a mark of 8-3 all-time in games played in the Lone Star State and has the most road wins of any Big 12 member heading into the weekend with 11 in 2014-15.


Meanwhile, the Bears are one spot ahead of WVU in the rankings, even though they have a weaker overall winning percentage and are fifth in the standings at 9-6. However, Baylor did have a marquee win three nights ago with a 79-70 victory over Iowa State in Ames, pushing its win streak to three in a row.


As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Bears have won all but one of the previous six meetings against WVU. The lone victory for the Mountaineers came in Waco last season by a narrow 66-64 margin as Juwan Staten hit the game-winning layup with three seconds on the clock.

The Mountaineers took advantage of their 23 trips to the free-throw line versus Texas in the latest outing, nailing all but three of those opportunities, as they captured the seven-point home win. Devin Williams scored 14 points and cleared seven rebounds, both of which were team highs, while Jonathan Holton and Daxter Miles Jr. pitched in with 12 points apiece, the latter adding five steals. Jevon Carter posted 10 points off the bench to help fill the void left by Juwan Staten who dropped in just seven points on 3- of-9 shooting from the floor.

Staten may get all of the hype for the Mountaineers, thanks to 13.1 ppg and a total of 70 assists during his 14 conference appearances, but Williams has been just as vital to the program's success. Williams, the only other double- digit scorer for the program with 11.9 ppg, is be far the most aggressive one on the glass with 9.1 rpg. Gary Browne accounts for another 9.2 ppg as the program tries to balance the scoring sheet, but he is shooting only 38.9 percent from the floor during his 22.2 minutes per contest. As a group, the Mountaineers are converting only 39.4 percent of their first goal tries.


The Bears attacked Iowa State from the perimeter earlier this week, hitting an impressive 14-of-26 shots behind the 3-point line, which gave the visitors a better shooting percentage beyond the arc (.538) than the field overall (.458), and was almost as good as their efforts at the free-throw line (.579). Taurean Prince connected on 4-of-8 on the outside to arrive at 20 points, followed by Kenny Chery with 15 points, to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. Thanks to a 4-of-5 showing from long range, Lester Medford tallied 12 points, followed by Rico Gathers and Royce O'Neale with 10 points apiece.


During conference play, Baylor has been quite stout at the defensive end of the floor for the most part, limiting foes to only 62.7 ppg based on 29.3 percent shooting behind the 3-point line. At the other end, the Bears have lit up the scoreboard with 39.5 percent accuracy on the outside, leading to 67.9 ppg. Prince is responsible for 14.7 ppg and Chery another 12.9 ppg, the latter also handing out 58 assists in order to get teammates involved in the action.


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