No. 20 West Virginia was blown out for the second time this season against No. 19 Baylor, losing 78–66. The Mountaineers were without two of their crucial weapons, Juwan Staten and Gary Browne. Their presence was greatly missed.
Prior to the game, head coach Bob Huggins announced that the Big 12 preseason player of year Staten would not be able to go versus the Bears. Staten suffered a left knee injury against Texas.
The Mountaineers were dealt another blow just three minutes into the contest. Staten’s replacement, Browne was injured after going for a loose ball. Browne’s leg was rolled on by Baylor’s Rico Gathers.
Browne would not return.
With both Browne and Staten on the bench, the half court offense suffered.
Feb 28, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Jevon Carter (2) guards Baylor Bears guard Lester Medford (11) during the second half at Ferrell Center. Baylor won 78-66. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
While West Virginia’s had production from their younger players throughout the season — they were not able to make up for the missing senior point guards.
After Browne exited the game, Tarik Phillip was brought into the run the point. Phillips, Chase Connor, Jaysean Paige and Jevon Carter were the players being asked to step up and saw significant time throughout the game.
In only the first half of play, West Virginia turned the ball over nine times as the Mountaineers’ young guns couldn’t make anything happen on the offensive side of the floor.
Without Staten and Browne, there was no control, no leadership and no management when it came to the offense.
Carter led the Mountaineers in scoring, as he had 25 points, a career-high for the young guard. His quick release and solid shooting from beyond the arc will only continue to get better, but it wasn’t enough for the Mountaineers to overcome the Bears this time around.
Baylor shot 24-47 (51 percent) from the floor and 8-15 (53 percent) from three-point land.
West Virginia shot just 25-62 (40 percent) from the floor and 8-24 (33 percent) from behind the three-line.
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Head coach Bob Huggins has stressed all season the need for his team to protect the ball and force opponents to turn the ball over. All of this is to make up for West Virginia’s poor shooting.
Before this loss, West Virginia was in the thick of the Big 12 standings. The Mountaineers were one of five teams contending for the Big 12 regular season crown, but this loss to Baylor has narrowed their chances.
While this team seems poised to have young talent grow into big-time players in the future, this season the young players can’t be without their seniors. Staten and Browne still need to be in this lineup and manage the games in order for West Virginia to make noise in both he NCAA and Big 12 Tournaments.