MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—Three Baylor Bears scored double figures Wednesday as they edged West Virginia 65-62 to snap a three-game losing string and keep hopes alive of an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
The Bears (17-11, 8-7 Big 12 Conference) not only had lost three in a row, but six of their past eight. On top of that, coming in, they led West Virginia (13-15, 6-9) by only one game for sixth place in the league.
West Virginia has lost three in a row and is in danger of having the first losing season in the program since former coach John Beilein’s first year here in 2002-03. That group finished 14-15. The Mountaineers have gone to five straight NCAA tournaments under coach Bob Huggins.
Baylor was led by Isaiah Austin’s 21 points, while guard Pierre Jackson added 15 and A.J. Walton finished with 10 before fouling out.
Freshman guard Eron Harris scored a career-high 25 points for the Mountaineers. Kevin Noreen finished with 10.
Noreen’s 3-point shot brought the Mountaineers within 63-62 with 1:36 to go, but teammate Juwan Staten’s shot was blocked by Austin at the end.
Jackson, who leads the Big 12 in scoring and assists, made two free throws with 17.9 seconds left to provide icing for the Bears. He also handed out five assists.
Jackson finished 4 of 13 from the field and just 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
Jackson was 1 of 3 from the floor in the first half, his second straight slow start. In a 90-76 loss to Oklahoma last Saturday, he was just 1 of 8 from the floor in the first half but finished with 28 points for the game.
Baylor trailed the Sooners by 26 a game ago and was behind West Virginia by five this night.
In fact, West Virginia led 39-32 with 17:30 remaining before Baylor scored five points in 1 minute, 13 seconds for a 39-37 score.
West Virginia kept Baylor at arm’s length at 48-43 with 13:19 showing until the Bears mounted their second comeback of the half. They scored seven in a row with a key 3-pointer by Gary Franklin for their first lead, 50-48, since 9:56 was left in the first half.
After Harris—who canned 7 of 14 shots and 10 of 13 free throws—tied the game with two free throws at the 9:33 mark, the 7-foot-1 Austin knocked in his second trey of the night.
The score was 53-50 with 9:17 left. Baylor never trailed again.
Noreen’s late-game 3-pointer pulled West Virginia within one, but Austin blocked Staten’s shot at the end.
The Mountaineers outrebounded the Bears 42-32, including 21-12 on the offensive end. However, Huggins’ team was just 8 of 29 from the field (27.6 percent) in the second half and 35.7 percent (20 of 56) for the game.
Baylor was 12 of 23 in the second half (52.2 percent) and 43.4 percent (23 of 53) in the game.
Harris became the first West Virginia player to score at least 20 in a game since Jan. 23. His best night as a freshman was only the seventh game this season a Mountaineer has scored at least 20.
West Virginia has scored as many as 65 points only five times this season.