The WVU basketball team did what it needed to do against Baylor in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday.
The Mountaineers fell behind in the early minutes against the Bears but quickly regrouped and had a sizable lead before halftime. The WVU basketball team ran away with it in the second half for a 78-65 victory.
West Virginia now plays Texas Tech in the semifinals. The other semifinals match up is Kansas against Kansas State. The WVU basketball team split against Texas Tech in the regular season.
A defensive performance like on Thursday should carry the Mountaineers through the rest of the Big 12 Tournament and well into the NCAA Tournament. The WVU basketball team forced 22 turnovers and had 12 steals.
Esa Ahmad got things done on both ends of the court as he helped the defense with three steals and turned around to lead the Mountaineers with 21 points. Jevon Carter was just as important as always with six steals and 18 points. Daxter Miles added 19 points, despite fouling out.
The Mountaineers had six more foul shots than Baylor, showing that either the referees are finally adjusting to the WVU basketball team’s aggressive style, or the Mountaineers are playing within their means. It’s probably a mix of both, but something to consider through the rest of the postseason.
The Mountaineers also got a strong performance from Wesley Harris who scored seven points and went 4 of 4 from the free throw line. Manu Lecomte led the Bears with 27 points and Terry Maston added 11 points. The WVU basketball team limited big man Jo Lual-Acil to just four points. He did have nine of the Bears’ 31 rebounds.
West Virginia had 37 points, led by eight boards from Ahmad. Sagaba Konate and Miles both pulled down six rebounds. The Mountaineers scored 22 points off turnovers, while the Bears scored just eight points off West Virginia’s 16 turnovers.
Because this is tournament time, there is no rest to be had. The WVU basketball team plays again on Friday evening against the Red Raiders. Texas Tech beat Texas, 73-69, to get to this point.