This was a game worthy of March.
Facing a second straight loss on the heels of an 18-0 start, No. 3 Baylor scored a frantic 94-89 overtime win over No. 6 West Virginia on Tuesday.
The victory secured the first-ever Big 12 championship for the Bears and their first conference championship of any kind since 1950. It should also lay to rest any concerns in Baylor after Saturday's loss to Kansas on the heels of a nearly three-week layoff because of COVID-19 issues in the program.
West Virginia can't hold onto late lead
West Virginia gave Baylor its best shot on its home floor and led in the final seconds of regulation. But a Jared Butler layup tied the game at 81-81 with two seconds remaining to force overtime, where the Bears outdueled their Big 12 rivals down the stretch in a game that went back and forth throughout a frenetic second half and extra session.
Jared Butler comes up big
Butler led the way with 25 points, six assists and three rebounds. Davion Mitchell added 20 points while Matthew Mayer chipped in 18 points off the bench. The Bears needed every bit of their offensive firepower to fend off an equally potent Mountaineers offense led by Taz Sherman's 26 points off the bench.
West Virginia turned a 35-31 halftime deficit into a 48-43 lead less than five minutes into the second half. A Mitchell 3-pointer with 8:27 remaining in the second half cut West Virginia's lead to 60-58, and neither team would extend a lead of more than four points from there until the game's final margin.
Baylor looked often to its NCAA-best 3-point shooting (42.1%), hitting 13 of 31 attempts (41.9%) from behind the arc while connecting on 51.4 percent from the field. Butler added to his Big 12 Player of the Year résumé while connecting on 5 of 11 from beyond the arc, including a critical shot from the corner to give Baylor its first overtime lead at 86-85.
The Mountaineers countered with a 46.4% effort from the field while hitting 9 of 23 (39.1%) 3-point attempts and securing a 36-31 edge in rebounds. It wasn't quite enough.
Both teams primed for high NCAA seeds
Baylor's a virtual lock for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and looked like a team worthy of that status in its second game back from its COVID-19 hiatus.
West Virginia missed a chance to solidify its projection as a No. 2 seed. But it didn't do much to hurt its cause in a strong effort that came up just short against the No. 3 team in the nation.
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