Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins yells at forward Dominique Rutledge after a defensive breakdown led to a first-half dunk by Baylor.

WACO, Texas — Was this really Waco? Because it sure felt like West Lafayette all over again.

The Mountaineers, hearkening back to the punchless effort they levied against Purdue, showed little fire during a forgettable second half here Wednesday night. The resulting 80-60 loss to Baylor once more dropped West Virginia below .500 in Big 12 play and shot BB holes in all the recent signs of progress.

To think, this was a one-point game with 17 seconds left in the first half, at which juncture WVU was still impersonating a team on the improve. Then Baylor used a 30-second timeout to a stage its last-shot possession, which wound up in the hands of reserve guard Gary Franklin all alone on the left wing, planted just a few feet in front of Bob Huggins.

Too bad for WVU that Huggins couldn’t throw a hand in Franklin’s face, considering no other Mountaineer was close enough to do so. Franklin swished a 3-pointer at the horn and Baylor bounced off the court with a 31-27 halftime cushion.

Sure, Franklin wasn’t a starter, but the WVU scouting report most assuredly ID’d him as an outside shooter, considering how 61 of his previous 79 shots this season came from outside the arc.

That wasn’t the last time the Mountaineers left a Baylor gunner unchecked. Brady Heslip made four of his six 3s in the second half, benefiting from drive-and-kick assists by point guard Pierre Jackson

“When you have Pierre who’s so fast … it forces other people to help,” said Heslip, who scored 20 points. “Sometimes my guy helped, and when he did it led to open 3s.”

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor guard Brady Heslip (5) reacts to sinking one of six 3-pointers in Wednesday’s 80-60 win over West Virginia.

But Heslip’s explanation didn’t satisfy West Virginia’s Eron Harris, a guard who has Heslip’s range along with a skill Heslip does not — the ability to penetrate and create shots off the dribble.

“The shooter got shots off when all he does is shoot 3s,” fumed Harris.

Everyone wearing Mountaineer blue seemed especially mystified as to why no defender guarded Heslip on a secondary fast break midway through the second half. The junior was in tailing position as Jackson sped down the middle of the court, and when the point guard reached the top of the key, well, let’s allow Jackson to recount:

“Brady was like ‘Yo, pitch it back, pitch it back,’ and I was like, ‘I got you.’ I gave it to him and he did the rest.”

That was one of nine assists for Jackson, the Big 12′s top scorer, whose 15 points were only third-highest on his own team Wednesday. The Bears doled out 23 assists overall and 14 in the second half when they pulverized WVU with 59-percent shooting.

What Huggins saw from the sideline: “We had live ball turnovers that they scored on, then we kind of started hanging our heads and they beat us in transition.”

What Mountaineers guard Jabarie Hinds saw from the court: “We didn’t play the whole second half. They had some runs, but we didn’t come back with a run and compete. They just kept pounding on us.”

The matchup paired the two stingiest defensive teams in Big 12 conference action, as Baylor came in allowing 60.8 points per league game and WVU surrendering 61.4. The Mountaineers, however, clearly didn’t bring their defensive intensity. (Perhaps they gave up guarding for Lent?)

“Defense,” said Hinds when asked about the most disappointing aspect of the loss. “We gave up too many layups and dunks.”

Seven of those layups and dunks came courtesy of Rico Gathers, known as the other freshman at Baylor this season thanks to Isaiah Austin hoarding most of the accolades.

Yet Gathers was a four-star recruit last season, and the nation’s No. 37-rated prospect by Rivals. He declined Duke, Florida and N.C. State to play for the Bears — and if hoops doesn’t pan out, the 6-8 musclemound should consider playing for the Chicago Bears. He’s got the build, and on Wednesday night when he flexed, West Virginia backed down.

That’s when Gathers and Baylor finished WVU with a series of haymakers — or maybe they were Boilermakers. No difference, really, because the knockout blow felt the same.

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Comments

  • Shawn

    Hey i'm not innocent but I can't post anything without negative feedback. I'm done arguing.

    • Shawn

      I told Larry not to post anything under my comments because I was done.

      • Hoffy

        Be assured I did not direct my post towards you, and accept my apology if I've offended you. You weren't the one engaging in name-calling.

        • Shawn

          Oh I know but I like to admit that I haven't been completely innocent but I have tried to stop responding to those guys.

          • Hoffy

            I get it; I've had to bite my tongue, too. Okeh, see you later, and Let's Go Mountaineers!

  • Hoffy

    Is there any way we can agree to avoid getting personal with each other in this forum?
    Enough, already, ok?

  • Shawn

    LOGIC? You won't find that on here most of the time. I've started to just state my opinions on the article above and not get into it with some of these guys because they obviously don't know anything about sports. They especially don't know anything about WVU sports.

    I think that every new coach deserves the time to build their program and put their stamp on it. This definitely goes for any team who enters a new conference. Holgorsen needs another year to be in that position and Huggs has earned the right as a coach to have a down year. The thing that kills me is people truly think Huggs doesn't care about his team and players. This season kills him alot more than it does any fan out there i guarantee it.

    • Larry

      Little shawn,

      Huggins has had 5-6 years to build his program. How many years does it take a Hall of Fame coach to build a program? 10 years? 15 maybe.

      The initiation period is over for Huggins..Sorry
      He is not worth $10,000.00 a day to overeat, get fatter, and produce mediocre teams.

      Get over it little shawn....

      • Shawn

        We've already established your comments are worthless. NEXT!

  • Stan

    I don't want to make excuses, but I wonder how much the travel and being in a new league is playing a part. It seems like most of our sports teams are having a hard time adjusting. We all saw the football team struggle, the Wrestling team (which is usually pretty good) is struggling, the Woman's Basketball team (which is usually pretty good) is struggling. I think we need to be patient and allow these sports teams to adjust before we start hanging out coaches to dry.

    • Larry

      Yeal stan,

      Once everyone adjusts to the travel, all will be well...

      Puh-Leeze...

      • Stan

        Yeah you're right. You're solution is so much better. Lets fire them all, lets fire Huggs, lets fire Holgorsen, and lets fire Coach Carey and Turnbull too since they are having bad seasons also. Makes since, get rid of them all for having a bad season in a new conference. Very logical.

        • cutty77

          Its just a bad year for The Basketball Team,get it over with.Next year has to be better.I don't think Travel affects these players,i think it affects the Coaches if anybody.LOL

  • JDH

    For the record, Ebanks and Jones were Huggins' recruits. Joe Alexander would likely not have developed an ability to score with his back to the basket without Huggins. Butler would have likely never become a Mountaineer legend without Huggins. Huggins has coached 1,001 college b-ball games which is 1,001 more than most of us. Do you think Villanova, Kentucky, and North Carolina should be similarly howling for firings? Those teams are having worse than typical years also... Wishing for Beilen's return is like telling your super model wife that your ugly ex-girlfriend was a great cook.

    • WVWho

      NOVA plays in the Big East, which is actually a good conference top to bottom, UK & UNC have won national titles and been perennial final four teams, what's Hugg's excuse?

  • wvtd

    going to be lot of "wait until next year" the next few years it looks like. do any of these players even graduate?
    i made it through the catlett era and can handle this current mess.

  • cutty77

    Coaches get to much blame,and they get to much Credit .But they get a Hellva of alot of Money for Both.LOL

  • Tim C

    There's a lot of long-winded speeches here so I'll keep it simple........We Suck! And it ain't the Coach's fault.

  • cutty77

    Huggs thinks he has a free pass,and he may this year.After this year is over he may have a under 500 record after 2 years.

  • justin

    this team is awful. they have been awful the whole season.. huggs makes to much $ to coach in wv. i thought he would be able to bring the best players to morgantown but i was wrong. no players want to come to motown at all. it sucks i know but its the truth.

  • Phil M.

    Agreed Jay but Huggs recruitted those horses. Maybe he needs to hang out in a different stable or two this off season.

  • Phil M.

    Did you see where Utah brought Dennis Erickson in as a CO-OC. That's how we need to think. None of this well you can't get that caliber of a coach at WVU. That's the wrong mentality. They say competition makes players better so who's to say you can't put that philosophy to use in coaching. Having a guy on your coaching staff that could fill your shoes I assure you will make you work and coach harder. What coaches are out there that would make a good DC and is a big time coach looking for a job.

  • Jay

    After the game, Eron Harris said, "We didn't compete." (See his comments within another Metro News link.)

    If THIS is a problem in the 24th game of the season, this team is done...dixie fried. Learning to compete, in my opinion, should take place in the first ten games. Fighting for a postseason life in the 24th game of a season is no place to not complete. Inexcusable.

    Bob Huggins has earned over 700 wins, multiple conference championships, two Final Four trips, etc....all while coaching (and recruiting) several All-Americans and assembling tremendous coaching staffs. Even he can only coach the will to compete to a specific point. Then, the players have to take the reigns and compete night-in and night-out. It's the old adage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." I have a feeling this bad season is more a result of players not wanting to drink the waters of competition. Huggins is known for sticking players' heads in that puddle.

  • PGHMOUNTAINEER

    You have to ask yourself a question: How does Baylor, located in Waco and puts about 6,000 people in the stands for a basketball game, recruit a much better athlete than WVU which has a fairly good tradition in basketball?
    Very discouraging!

    • Jethro

      Come on its morgantown wv sometimes you get lucky with recruits sometimes not. This isnt chapel hill. This season is done. Go eers!

  • Phil M.

    I don't know who started the black sweats, black hats, etc. Bob needs a little time on the treadmilll like a lot of us but I' m with a lot of you, get rid of the black slimming outfit and put some old gold and blue on. Oh and by the way I was yelled at a lot as a player when I was playing ball but usually in practice, not in front of the entire country on national TV. Time for O. Luck to put a stop to this. Did you notice that Brian Kelly did a lot of that when he first came to Notre Dame. Not so much now. I know winning took care of some of that but you can bet some ND brass had a conversation with him about the image he was projecting.