Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor forward Rico Gathers dunks for two of his 22 points during the Bears’ 80-60 win over West Virginia in Waco, Texas.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Baylor coach Scott Drew found himself feeling apologetic Saturday after the Bears fell behind by 26 at halftime of what became a 90-76 loss at Oklahoma. He apologized to Baylor Nation, absorbed the blame for what he called his “worst coaching job” and tried to mine encouragement from the Bears showing a little fight in the second half.

But time is short for Baylor, which is far too talented to reside in Joe Lunardi’s “first four out” cluster as it does today. If the Bears don’t take care of business Wednesday night at the WVU Coliseum, Drew could find himself making apologies for the NIT.

A five-key primer as the Mountaineers (13-14, 6-8) prepare to host Baylor (16-11, 7-7) at 8 p.m. Eastern:

1. Last time they met …
Freshman reserve Rico Gathers pounded WVU on the inside (six dunks and layups) for 22 points and Brady Heslip snipered WVU from the outside (five 3-pointers) on his way to 20 points as Baylor won 80-60 on Feb. 13.

West Virginia got flattened in the second half, when guards Eron Harris and Jarabie Hinds said the team stopped competing.

Coach Bob Huggins echoed that assessment as well, along with this beauty about WVU too frequently helping off Baylor’s top 3-point shooter: “If you leave Heslip open, he’s going to make shots. Everybody in America knows that … except the seven or eight guys I had guarding him.”

2. Since they last met …
As lethal as Baylor looked that night in Waco, the Bears have been in a freefall since, suffering through a three-game losing streak.

First came an 81-61 loss at Kansas State, in which point guard Pierre Jackson finished with seven points, to snap his string of 31 games in double-figures scoring. Then came an 87-82 home loss to Iowa State in which Jackson scored 30 but Baylor allowed the Cyclones to shoot 54 percent. Then came the debacle at Oklahoma, where the Sooners put the game away by intermission.

3. Bears on the bubble
That three-game skid explains why Baylor now has work to do just to get back into the NCAA field of 68. With an RPI of 61 entering Wednesday, the Bears likely need to win their final two road games at WVU and Texas, split home games against K-State and Kansas, and win a game at the Big 12 tournament.

Drew said it’s impossible to shield his players from all the bubble chatter and NCAA scenarios.

“It’s a fine line,” he said. “Basketball players are going to watch basketball, they’re going to watch ‘SportsCenter’ and they’re going to see the constant updates of first four in, last four out. So we want to play every game with the importance of knowing what’s at stake, but at the same time, not be so uptight and wound up that you’re not able to perform at your best.”


Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson leads the Big 12 in scoring and assists.

4. Action Jackson
Jackson’s transformation from a shoot-first junior college combo guard to a well rounded Baylor point guard has been a success, even if the Bears’ season hasn’t. The senior has all but locked up the Big 12’s scoring (19.2 points) and assists (6.42 per game) titles.

“You watch him for two minutes and you see he’s got another gear in him that most college players don’t have, and maybe a lot of people in the NBA don’t have,” Drew said.

“He can get anywhere he wants to on the court. What makes him unique is that he can actually shoot it as well. Normally people don’t have that ability to do both — get by people and shoot it.”

5. Sloppy memories
Baylor’s runaway in Waco was fueled by 18 West Virginia turnovers. Though WVU’s 13.1 turnovers rank fifth in the Big 12 (and the Mountaineers’ plus-1.44 turnover margin ranks third), Huggins said his team’s miscues tend to be ill-timed and particularly devastating.

“Our turnovers have been at the worst times in the worst ways,” he said. “Sometimes I think our guys are colorblind. We have a tendency to throw it to the wrong team at times. We have too many live-ball turnovers, and live-ball turnovers result in baskets for the other team.

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  • big tom

    the coach that has been teaching our guys how to play defense, should be fired, i have never seen so many players wide open this season...looks like we have 13 freshmen running around out there, lost

  • Jethro

    The stooges are pathetic! Bunch of commies!

  • cutty77

    In Huggy's new Contract he has walk-way no questions asked clause in 2015.So Keep That Date in your Mind.

  • Matt Turner

    Bet you were singing a different tune in 2010 - William. You're a disgrace to Mountaineer Nation!!!!

    • William


  • Alum

    Well as soon as larry joins the party we will once again have the trifecta of stupidity - tommy, billy and larry.

    • big tom

      did you watch the game tonight,,, now that's stupidity and you guys are ok with mediocrity. sad.

  • big tom

    just got off the phone with ollie, he said if attendance goes down, he will revisit huggin's contract which stimpulates that we must maintain a certain level of attend. in order for the contract not to be null and void. We can only hope either the coaching gets better quickly or huggie is pushed into retirement..
    i don't think he forgot how to coach, i just think his priorities have strayed from BB and more towards something that doesn't play any part of our program's future.

    • chad

      Whether you like or not, Huggs is going nowhere. You better buy some more Terd Green as well ther fella. He will fix it by cutting all these lazy, ignorant, prima donna players. They all have skill and talent and thats what Huggins saw in them. What he failed to see was their lack of commitment, work ethic, and heart. These players have failed the coach. He will fix it

      • big tom

        not in our lifetime.. a combination of no talent and very poor coaching.
        we had a good program handed to huggie, and he's just about totally dismantled it..
        this makes me want to throw up, there are bunches of college coaches out there that would love to have the wvu job, and take a whole lot less, but we are now stuck in a very bad situation with a coach of questionable character. It really breaks my heart what has happened in just three yrs. ,sad

  • jethro

    just got off the phone w ollie, he says huggins aint going anywhere so get off that soapbox

  • big tom

    huggs isn't going anywhere unless he wants to.... now that's pathetic. Who hires a coach and allows him to pick when hewants to quit/
    Huggs inherited a very good team from Beilein and has dragged us down into the catlett zone. Now that's pathetic. Just look at our record over the last three seasons. SAD.
    but he can pick when he wants out, PATHETIC. Now he's making $8219 dollars a day, how long would you stay.
    Is this the best use of our money? ANd he said he'd fix it..and he said he didn't see this coming. WOW, making that kind of bucks and you don't know what's going on?
    I'm at a loss, and i know it, huggs doesn't.
    Fix it,, LOL> haven't we heard this before.



    • william

      Why would any WVU fan support JUMPSUIT HUGGINS? Tell me what he does on the court that he does well? Do you support Huggins because of the language he uses all the time, like yelling at the referee> F-YOU, F-YOU in front of kids and fans? Do you support the way he treats his players and screams at them with all types of lanuage? Or how he yanks his players in and out of games if they make one mistake? Do you support him for what he did at the NIKE CLINIC last year at Robert Morris?(goggle it to see what happened) Do you support the way this coach THROWS HIS PLAYERS UNDER THE BUS ALL THE TIME with his comments, also post game comments? WAKE UP WVU FANS! WVU FANS DESERVE BETTER!

    • chad

      Well get used to rooting against the Mounties there dipstick. Huggs isn't going anywhere ever nor should he, until he wants to. It's the players who have failed not the coach. Go buy some Terd Green.

  • jethro

    they sound alot like us, may be we can beat them this time go mountaineers!