MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Baylor’s debut as the No. 1 team unraveled in a sloppy mess against No. 10 West Virginia’s full-court press.
Nathan Adrian poured in a career-best 22 points, Jevon Carter scored 17 with seven assists, and the two combined for eight of the Mountaineers’ 15 steals to fuel an 89-68 blowout Tuesday.
The loss by Baylor (15-1, 3-1) left Gonzaga as the lone unbeaten team in Division I.
“We weren’t overconfident. They just kicked our butt,” said Bears coach Scott Drew.
After West Virginia (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) forced 29 turnovers — the most ever during its 82 games against Big 12 opposition — a sellout crowd of 14,632 swarmed the court.
“There wasn’t anybody in our locker room who did think we should win,” said Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins. “I’m OK with the students celebrating and having fun. I just want it to become expected. That’s when we’ve kind of arrived.”
With “Press Virginia” at its pestering best, Baylor’s Ishmail Wainwright dribbled the ball off his foot, Johnathan Motley traveled on a post move, and Jo Lual-Acuil fumbled out of a double-team. Even when the defense wasn’t nearby, point guard Manu Lecomte stepped on the sideline while dribbling uncontested.
“This team on film they’ve been very impressive, but in person, definitely the best pressing team Coach Huggins has had,” Drew said. “They just make you feel uneasy and uncomfortable. They just took us out of everything.”
Baylor trailed by 11 points only seven minutes into the game, then pulled within four before Adrian’s jumper restored West Virginia’s cushion to 39-32 at half.
Never allowing Baylor to draw closer than five points in the second half, the Mountaineers iced the game with a 24-7 run featuring electrifying blocks by Sagaba Konate and two 3s by Adrian.
The senior forward Adrian made 7-of-10 shots, snapping out of a monthlong 20-of-67 slump.
“You can’t go hunting your shot, which I never try to do,” he said. “You’ve got to play within yourself and hopefully it works out.”
Freeman, Lual-Acuil and Terry Maston scored 10 points each for the Bears, who were routed one day after climbing to the top spot in the AP poll. The 7-foot Lual-Acuil grabbed 12 rebounds but combined with Wainwright and Lecomte to commit 15 turnovers.
Brandon Watkins and Tarik Phillip added 11 points each for West Virginia, which beat the Bears for a third consecutive time. West Virginia’s second-half runaway spurt included Phillip’s steal and feed to Watkins for a breakaway dunk that made it 57-43.
“They only had a couple good ballhandlers that what we saw from film,” Phillip said. “So when certain guys got the ball we said we were going to heat them up.”
Toppling No. 1
West Virginia twice upset the No. 1 team at home previously, beating Kansas last season and UNLV 87-78 in 1983.
Daxter Miles’ putback dunk made for a 70-49 lead and a roaring Coliseum, but his technical after a mini-pullup on the rim made Huggins furious.
“Obviously that wasn’t going to get (Baylor) back in the game, but you can’t do that,” the coach said. “You can’t penalize your teammates by doing that.”
Miles spent the ensuing three minutes on the bench.
Bad night for Bears
Averaging 12 turnovers per game, Baylor committed that many within the opening 10 minutes Tuesday. … The Bears came in yielding 58.3 points per game, fourth-best in Division I. … Motley, a 6-foot-10 NBA prospect averaging 15.8 points, scored just eight on 3-of-10 shooting and saw his string of four double-doubles end.
“People in Vegas, they’re not dumb. There’s a reason West Virginia was favored.” — Baylor coach Scott Drew
“They played harder than we did. We got the result we deserved.” — Baylor guard Jake Lindsey
“It’s my third one, so I’m sort of getting used to it.” — Mountaineers guard Tarik Phillip on the postgame court-storming