WACO, Texas — What happened to Baylor’s big-man duo of Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson? The pair who were supposedly a disastrous matchup for West Virginia’s front line?
They each took just six shots, each scored just six points and generally were mitigated by WVU’s previously soft defense. They made only 1-of-5 free throws and combined to grab 10 rebounds (about four below their tandem average).
Their shared inconsistency partially explains why Baylor (13-7, 1-6) has tumbled from No. 7 in the nation to No. 9 in the conference during a forgettable month.
While the 7-foot-1 Austin used his endless wingspan to block four shots, he showed little of the inside-outside assertiveness that fueled his 21-point outburst in Morgantown last season.
As for the 6-9 Jefferson—a senior who, like Austin, mulled jumping to the NBA last spring—he played only 21 minutes, giving way to the bulkier more-productive Rico Gathers.
“Once (Jefferson) looks like Dwight Howard dunking on the guy and then the other times things don’t work out as well,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew.
Drew’s team faces a return trip to Morgantown on Feb. 22. By that point will Baylor have resolved its problems and begun playing up to its talent level? With next weekend marking the midpoint of the Big 12 round-robin schedule, has Baylor—once thought to be an NCAA tournament shoo-in—dug itself a hole too deep to escape?
“It’s a lot worse to be rich and then poor than never be rich, so starting off the way that we did and then falling off—it’s been tough. But that’s life.”
Life for Baylor in Tuesday night was a half-full Ferrell Center watching the Bears lose their fifth straight.
Said Gathers, who came off the bench to provide 12 rebounds and eight points: “The frustration is definitely there.”