The Baylor Bears won their first 15 games to ascend to the No. 1 position in the Associated Press Poll. That winning streak didn't last a single game at the mountaintop.
The No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers employed their havoc-causing full-court press and beat Baylor in commanding fashion Tuesday 89-68 in the latter's first game of the season at No. 1. The Mountaineers swarmed the Bears ball-handlers all over the floor, forcing 29 turnovers and outscoring Baylor by 14 in the second half.
West Virginia moved to 14-2 and 3-1 in the Big 12, while Baylor dropped to 15-1 (3-1). While the Bears still have notable victories against Oregon, Xavier, Michigan State and Louisville to fall back on, they missed a chance to make a statement on the road in conference play.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted the 21-point defeat was "the largest loss in AP Poll history by a team in its 1st ever game as No. 1."
The turnovers were the story, but West Virginia's defense held Baylor to 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) shooting from three-point range as well.
Nathan Adrian led the way in the box score with 22 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Jevon Carter added 17 points, seven assists and five steals. West Virginia also attempted 13 more shots than Baylor because of the turnovers, which helped it overcome a 41-32 rebounding deficit and a 14-of-23 mark (60.9 percent) from the free-throw line.
Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., Al Freeman and Terry Maston each scored 10 points for the Bears, but the pressure defense from West Virginia proved to be too much throughout the game.
That full-court pressure got to Baylor almost immediately. The Bears turned the ball over six times by the under-16-minute timeout in the first half and fell behind 8-4.
Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports pointed to the change of pace as part of the problem for the visitors:
Jeff Eisenberg @JeffEisenberg
Baylor is trying to attack quickly to make WVU pay for pressing, but it's out of the glacial-paced Bears' comfort zone. Not working, so far.1/11/2017, 12:12:21 AM
It was an early sign of things to come, as the Mountaineers extended their lead to double digits with an Elijah Macon jumper. Still, Baylor responded with a 6-0 spurt and remained within striking distance throughout the first half thanks to its own defense, which relies on length and athleticism in a zone look, and a notable advantage on the glass.
One reason West Virginia didn't pull away in the first half despite forcing so many turnovers was the fact many were of the dead-ball variety and didn't lead to fast breaks. Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette-Mail noted the Mountaineers scored just 11 points on Baylor's 16 first-half turnovers.
Adrian's jumper gave the Mountaineers a 39-32 halftime lead despite Baylor's 26-14 rebounding advantage. The rebounding differential was largely due to the fact West Virginia attempted 12 more shots than the Bears in the opening 20 minutes because of the turnovers.
John Antonik of WVUSports.com pointed out the Bears were still in a comfortable position:
John Antonik @JohnAntonik
Baylor accustomed to trailing at halftime, Baylor has done so five times so far this year and won every one of them, obviously1/11/2017, 12:48:25 AM
West Virginia wasted little time seizing the momentum in the second half and erasing the possibility of another comeback. Baylor's Manu Lecomte hit a three to trim the lead to 43-37, but the Mountaineers answered with a Daxter Miles Jr. three and two Esa Ahmad layups to extend the advantage to 50-37.
Antonik called it the "best stretch of the game for West Virginia on both ends."
The offensive pace temporarily slowed from there, but Tarik Phillip's jumper gave the Mountaineers a 60-45 lead with 9:35 left. Carter drilled a three to make it 65-47 by the under-eight-minute timeout, and the Mountaineers were in full control with a defense that wasn't budging.
Vingle highlighted West Virginia's increased ability to parlay the turnovers into points in the second half:
Mitch Vingle @MitchVingle
WVU's points off turnover up to 25. At 7:20, WVU up on No. 1 Baylor 65-47. Some good stuff from the Mountaineers.1/11/2017, 1:48:07 AM
The Mountaineers removed any doubt about the outcome with an 11-1 run that turned a 65-49 lead into an overwhelming 76-50 advantage. West Virginia mixed in multiple blocks on the defensive side during the burst, and SB Nation CBB summarized the complete dominance:
SB Nation CBB @SBNationCBB
West Virginia is now attempting to make Baylor cry1/11/2017, 1:56:49 AM
West Virginia put things on cruise control from there and never let the Bears threaten before the fans stormed the court.
West Virginia Basketball shared the fans storming the court after the win:
WVU Men's Basketball @WVUhoops
Cue Country Roads #PressVirginia https://t.co/zETNKEbBCL1/11/2017, 2:25:29 AM
Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins discussed the outing, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com): "From the players to the managers, there was nobody in our locker room that didn't think we should win."
Baylor guard Jake Lindsey said, "Press Virginia is real," per the AP.
Bears head coach Scott Drew talked about his opponent, per the AP: "I have to say, this team on film, they have been impressive. But in person, definitely the best pressing team Coach Huggins has had."
Next up for West Virginia is a road game against Texas on Saturday. It then returns home to face Oklahoma before a daunting two-game stretch against No. 25 Kansas State and No. 2 Kansas.
Baylor's road trip continues at Kansas State on Saturday. It then plays four games against unranked teams in Texas, TCU, Texas Tech and Ole Miss before its showdown with the Jayhawks on Feb. 1 that will likely prove crucial in the race for a Big 12 title.
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