Kevin Jairaj/USA Tody Sports

Cory Jefferson and Baylor were ranked No. 7 in the nation before a 1-5 start to Big 12 play dropped the Bears from the rankings.

 

WACO, Texas — While five Big 12 teams occupied spots in the AP Top 25 unveiled Monday, Baylor was not among them. Four consecutive losses will have that effect.

Yet pollsters were the least of the Bears’ worries as they practiced Monday inside the Ferrell Center. Their resounding nonconference run—bolstered by neutral-court wins over Kentucky and Colorado—has been unraveled by a 1-5 league start.

Sure, college teams endure their ups and downs during the  course of a season, but Baylor—once ranked as high as No. 7—has gone completely schizo.

“We haven’t defended well in conference and we haven’t shot well in conference, which is a complete flip from what the nonconference was,” said coach Scott Drew, whose team hosts West Virginia (11-9, 3-4) on Tuesday night.

Baylor, the reigning NIT champ, sits 13-6 overall and needs a string of wins to resurface on the NCAA selection committee’s radar.

“We have to start winning if we want to have a chance to do what we want to do,” Drew said.

Baylor has shot 39 percent in Big 12 play after making 50 percent in nonleague action. Conversely, its Big 12 opponents are shooting a league-high 48 percent vs. 38 percent in the nonconference.

Those stats convey a slide in which Baylor hasn’t even been competitive, suffering double-digit losses to Iowa State, Kansas, Texas Tech and Texas. Only during a 66-64 home loss to Oklahoma did Drew’s team have a chance at the finish.

That’s been a steep and frustrating freefall for a roster stocked with talent—six players came to Baylor as top-100 recruits, and junior college point guard Kenny Chery was the No. 12-rated prospect in Canada. As players invariably have tried to give super-human individual efforts, Drew reminded them that trusting teammates is the surest way out of the slump.

“There’s a psychologist in us all (coaches) and we’re trying to push the right buttons,” said Drew, who wholly supported the players-only meeting that followed Saturday’s 74-60 home loss to Texas. “I think communication always prevents disaster.”

Last season’s trip to Waco was a disaster for West Virginia, which committed 18 turnovers in an 80-60 thumping.

“Coach Huggins has a had a lot of changes from last year’s team and this year’s team really plays hard,” Drew said. “They’re overall more skilled than last year’s team.”

Sophomore forward Rico Gathers—who came off the bench and emphatically dunked his way to a career-high 22 points against WVU last year—described the recent players’ meeting as about “getting back to where we were before we started slipping up.”

SCOUTING BAYLOR
Tipoff: Tuesday 7 p.m. in Waco (ESPN2)
Records: The Bears (13-6, 1-5) have five losses against RPI top-50 teams and have faced the nation’s 19th-toughest schedule. West Virginia (11-9, 3-4) has lost four of five, including two tight losses to No. 8-ranked Oklahoma State.
RPIs: Baylor is No. 52 and WVU is No. 91
Coach: Scott Drew (211-155 overall) spent one season as Valparaiso’s head coach before arriving at Baylor in 2003 in the aftermath of player Patrick Dennehy’s murder and the scandalous coverup by then-coach Dave Bliss. After four sanction-plagued seasons, Drew has transformed the program with three NCAA berths (including two Elite Eight trips) and two NIT bids. His record in 11 seasons with the Bears is 191-144.
Baylor’s top players: The starting front line of 7-foot-1 Isaiah Austin (10.5 points, league-high 53 blocks), 6-9 Cory Jefferson (12.9 points, 8.3 rebounds) and 6-7 Taurean Prince receives a boost from the 6-8 reserve Gathers, who leads the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. … Kenny Chery (11.1 points) stepped in for departed point guard Pierre Jackson and stands second in the Big 12 assist-to-turnover ratio behind Juwan Staten. Brady Heslip, whose 46-percent 3-point shooting is second in the league, burned WVU for 20 points last season, the fourth-highest scoring game of his career.
WVU roster notes: Staten ranks third in the league in scoring (17.3 points), third in field-goal shooting (52.2 percent) and tops in assists (5.8). He’s actually shooting even better during his seven league games. “He’s really blossomed,” said Drew. “When you’re shooting 56 percent rom the floor as a point guard, that’s real impressive.” … Backcourt mate Eron Harris (17.6 points) is second in Big 12 scoring after a 21-point game in Stillwater, and has enjoyed a three-game stretch by making 13-of-20 3-pointers. … West Virginia owns a 100-19 record under Huggins when scoring 70 points, with six of those losses coming this season as the Mountaineers have slipped to last in the league in field-goal percentage defense. “Nobody can guard the way the game has changed,” Huggins said, referring to the NCAA crackdown on defensive physicality. “They’ve gotten what they wanted and the scores are much higher.” … Terry Henderson shot 1-of-10 at Oklahoma State, his second vanishing act in three games. “For some reason it seems when Eron is making shots, Terry isn’t,” Huggins said. “And we need both of those guys to make shots for us.”
Line: Baylor favored by 5 1/2
Prediction: Baylor 80-71
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Comments

  • mad hatter

    if we win this game tonight, it will be a pretty good road win, in fact any road win is pretty good, though baylor is on a 4 game slide , if we can rebound just a little bit better, and not foul out, we got a chance..

  • William

    I'M LOVIN' IT

  • wvrefugee

    Too bad we're not playing them tomorrow night, a church night! The place would've been empty!

  • William

    WVU fans get ready for The "SWEATSUIT" HUGGINS SHOW.
    Huggins has been a big failure and EMBARRASSMENT TO THE STATE OF WV.
    This guy is a terrible coach. How bad does it need to get before he is FIRED?
    As long as "Sweatsuit" is head coach - Go Baylor, beat the *ell out of WVU

    And yes, I'M LOVIN' IT

  • Barry

    For all the Huggins supporters, this is why some Mountaineer fans, including myself, are upset.

    Beilein brought WVU out of the basement and had tremendous success. Huggins took what Beilein started and continued that success, and I believe he does deserve credit (along with the players) for that success.

    Then, after going to the Final Four in 2010 the program has been in a constant decline, and the recruiting was sub-par at best after the Final Four run.

    Now I know that sometimes you have bad luck, but why did WVU and Huggins not build from this momentum? Why is this season (Huggins' 7th at WVU) a "rebuilding year"? Why have at least 8 former Mountaineers left this program prematurely? Why is "fixing it" running off most of your team from last year? If they weren't good players then, why did Huggins recruit them? Why does WVU and Huggins need to recruit felons or players that can't make the grade? Why would I root for a player next year that I wouldn't let my daughter talk to?

    These are all questions that some long time Mountaineer fans are asking, and have a right to ask.

    Now, I know that most everyone who reads these articles are expected to fulfill their job requirements/expectations. So why would we as supporters of WVU Sports. The people who by our support help pay the bills not be allowed to voice our concerns?

  • DP

    mad hatter-WHAT A FRIGGING JERK! Get back into your Marshall Nightie (assuming you've taken it off) and wait a few hours so you can root against WV! You're a 100% IDIOT!!!!!

  • mad hatter

    just food for thought,,, though shawn has no brain so no thought will be wasted there

    who will huggins run off this yr..?

    gary browne,,, doubt it ,, remi dibo,,, my guess is yes,, he is absolutely non existent when it comes to def. and it appears huggie is getting a little upset.

    adrian,,, he can shoot , and that's about it,, give him one more yr.

    assistant coaches,, yes, get rid of all of them,

    • shawn

      If can't play D then you dont belong on a Bob Huggins teams.

      Adrian is getting better and better as the season goes on and his D has improved 100%.

      So Big Larry why did you decide to take the name Mad Hatter?

      • mad hatter

        really , you are barking up the wrong tree, for sure i'm not larry, never was, i have been big tom ,, but that's about it..

        well said sir

      • William

        WVU fans get ready for The "SWEATSUIT" HUGGINS SHOW.
        Huggins has been a big failure and EMBARRASSMENT TO THE STATE OF WV.
        This guy is a terrible coach. How bad does it need to get before he is FIRED?
        As long as "Sweatsuit" is head coach - Go Baylor, beat the *ell out of WVU

        And yes, I'M LOVIN' IT

  • mad hatter

    we need more moral wins, and wecan get them if the refs will stop robbing us of these wins, but a moral win is a moral win and i'll take it either way.
    It is my understand that once we get back from baylor that we will scrimmage the wvu girls team and huggie has asked the girls to lighten up and not be too hard on the boys..

    • pghmountaineer

      Mad, You're out of control. :)

    • shawn

      Everyone has the right to be stupid, but you're abusing the privilege. And listen Hatter, we don't hate you, we just aren't excited about your existence.

  • GoEers

    Good luck to the mountaineers tonight...this would be a great and much needed win on the road

  • Bondo

    WVU 72 Baylor 69

  • shawn

    It all comes down to playing hard on Defense. We'll have a hard time rebounding the ball in this game so we'll need to knock down some jump shots and create some turnovers.

  • pghmountaineer

    Being that we're now in to moral victories, I just hope we can keep it respectable. I hate to say it, but this game might be just what Baylor needs to brake out of their funk. They are a talented team.
    Hope I'm wrong.

  • john b

    We are a young team, shorthanded (and Huggs has to take some responsibility for the athletes he recruited who are academically borderline kids) but unlike last year they are playing very hard! Huggs, hasn't thrown them under the bus he (Huggs) has done a very good job with this young team and any realistic WVU Fan would hope we get an NIT Bid this year with some really good teams on the horizon within 2 to 3 years.

  • shawn

    Either your with the team or you're not. If you dont like the way they are playing then dont watch them. If you dont like the coach thats your opinion but degrading a person for his/her appearance is a joke. I'd like to line up 80% of the ppl that comment on these articles and see what they look like. I'd say it wouldn't be too pretty. And quit complaining about how much Huggs makes. I'm sure most of us on here are overpaid for what we do. Let's Go EERS!!!

    • GoEers

      80% of the people who comment on WVU articles are Marshall fans who are jealous of WVU. They have nothing to cheer for in a Marshall basketball team that has a losing record in the worst conference in college basketball. With Marshall being totally irrelevant, they put their energies to saying the worst things possible about WVU's coaches players, AD etc. I don't blame them for their hatred and jealousy. Over the years they've had to sit back and watch WVU play in sweet 16's, elite 8's and a Final Four while Marshall hasn't played in an NCAA tournament since the Reagan Administration. They've recently had to watch their former star Dre Kane transfer to the same conference as WVU in order to gain any national exposure as he was irrelevant at MU becuase when the winds of conference realignment were blowing, their "DO NOTHING" AD was asleep at the wheel. The list goes on and on. Best thing to do with these Marshall trolls is to ignore them.

  • jfk

    who will get their career high this time?!