Jared Butler, No. 3 Baylor Outlast No. 6 West Virginia in OT for Big 12 Title

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2021

Baylor guard Jared Butler, left, is defended by West Virginia guard Kedrian Johnson, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Kathleen Batten)
Kathy Batten/Associated Press

Baylor's title drought is over. And what an effort it took.

In a back-and-forth battle of Big 12 men's basketball powerhouses on Tuesday that had a dizzying amount of lead changes in the second half and overtime, Baylor topped West Virginia in overtime, 94-89, led by a huge performance from Jared Butler.  

Both teams had a chance to win the game in regulation in the final seconds, though neither could capitalize. 

And so Baylor has finally won a conference championship.

The Bears came into the game in prime position to win their first conference title since 1950, needing just one win in their last three games to end the drought. Easier said than done, with West Virginia, No. 17 Oklahoma State and No. 18 Texas Tech still on tap, though the Bears handled their business Tuesday.

As for West Virginia, the Mountaineers came into the contest trying to bolster their March Madness resume in the hopes of earning a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. They also had an outside shot at winning the Big 12 regular-season title, though Baylor ended those hopes. 

                   

Key Stats

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Jared Butler, Baylor: 25 points, six assists

Davion Mitchell, Baylor: 20 points, five assists

Matthew Mayer, Baylor: 18 points, four steals

Taz Sherman, WVU: 26 points (9-of-14 from the field)

Sean McNeil, WVU: 18 points (4-of-8 from three)

Miles McBride, WVU: 19 points, eight assists

                 

Jared Butler Came Up Huge Again

If there's one thing you can count on this season, it's Jared Butler showing up when it counts. 

No surprise, then, that one of the best players in college basketball this season was also Baylor's best player on Tuesday. No surprise that it was Butler who tied the game with just two seconds remaining.

To beat West Virginia, on the road, in a season when Baylor has made major lapses without game time amid the COVID-19 pandemic—well, it was special. And Butler led the way. 

                               

Sean McNeil Caught Fire in the 2nd Half

The West Virginia junior opened up the second half like the Human Torch, scoring 13 points in just four minutes:

It was a big moment for the Mountaineers, who went into the half trailing 35-31 after playing catch-up for the majority of the opening 20 minutes. 

Despite Sherman's huge evening, it was McNeil's hot shooting early in the second half that changed the trajectory of the game. It may not have been enough to rattle a resilient Baylor team, but McNeil's hot shooting—and the fact he's only West Virginia's fourth-leading scorer on the year—is a reminder of just how dangerous this team is this season.

     

What's Next?

Both teams are back in action Thursday at 7 p.m. ET as Baylor hosts Oklahoma State and West Virginia welcomes TCU.