Baylor has a chance to match the best start in school history. To do it, the Bears must get past a formidable opponent whose coach just earned a milestone victory of his own.
Sixth-ranked Baylor looks to improve to 12-0 on Friday night when it faces Bob Huggins and West Virginia in Las Vegas in a matchup pitting future conference rivals.
They kept their name on that list Thursday night by beating St. Mary’s 72-59 in another Las Vegas Classic contest. By doing so, Baylor improved to 11-0 for just the second time, and moved within a win of matching the 2000-01 team’s 12 consecutive victories to open a season.
Freshman Quincy Miller scored 15 points, Perry Jones III had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Quincy Acy added 12 points and 10 boards in a game the Bears never trailed.
“We don’t care who scores,” Miller said. “We’re trying to share the ball. We just try to get everyone in the game. We just want to get everyone involved. We just want to win.”
West Virginia (9-2) has won five straight, including a 70-68 overtime thriller over Missouri State on Thursday night before Baylor took the court. Gary Browne’s fall-away 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation sent the game to an extra session, where the Mountaineers won only after Missouri State’s Nathan Scheer missed a potential tying shot in the final seconds.
It was the 700th career win for Huggins, who has guided West Virginia to 21 victories or more in each of his first four seasons in Morgantown.
“When you’ve been in this 30 years and you don’t win games, they’re going to fire you,” Huggins told the Mountaineers’ official website.
Kevin Jones had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead four West Virginia players in double figures, but Huggins was less than thrilled with his team after it nearly lost to an opponent from the Missouri Valley Conference, trailing by double digits in the second half and shooting 8 of 15 from the free-throw line.
“We’re going to have to start making free throws,” said Huggins. “Truck (Bryant)’s got to make free throws for us. Gary (Browne) missed a big free throw for us. We can’t continue to give away points at the free throw line the way that we did.”
This will be the first meeting between the Bears and Mountaineers, who figure to be seeing much more of each other in future seasons after West Virginia announced in October that it plans to leave the Big East for the Big 12.
During his one season coaching Kansas State, Huggins’ team earned a 69-60 home win over Baylor on Jan. 17, 2007.