No. 5 Baylor tops West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — LJ Cryer scored a career-high 25 points in his second start of the season, and No. 5 Baylor snapped a two-game losing streak with a 77-68 victory over West Virginia on Tuesday night.
Baylor (16-2, 4-2 Big 12) bounced back after losing twice at home and relinquishing the No. 1 ranking. The defending national champion has won 13 straight away from home, including four consecutive true road games.
Cryer, a sophomore, started in place of Bears leading scorer James Akinjo, who sat out with a bruised tailbone sustained in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State. Freshman forward Jeremy Sochan missed his third straight game with a sprained ankle.
Matthew Mayer added 20 points for Baylor, Adam Flagler scored 14 and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua scored 10.
Malik Curry scored 19 points for West Virginia (13-4, 2-3), which has lost two straight and saw its streak of 10 straight wins at home to start the season snapped. Taz Sherman added 18 points and Sean McNeil scored 17.
Mayer made three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt to put Baylor ahead to stay, 56-54, with 7:35 remaining.
West Virginia was held to four field goals over the final six minutes. Mayer hit a 3-pointer, Adam Flagler made two 3s and Baylor pushed its lead to 71-61 with 3:31 left.
West Virginia couldn’t defend the post or get back in transition defense to start the game, and the Bears took advantage. At one point, Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins inserted little-used Seny N’diaye to try to help, but it only got worse. Flo Thamba, Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Flagler combined for four dunks in less than a five-minute span.
West Virginia couldn’t guard Mayer, either. Mayer, who had a season-high 18 points in Morgantown last season as the Bears clinched the Big 12 regular-season title, made three early 3-pointers and Baylor turned an early deficit into a 30-14 lead.
The Mountaineers finally tightened up their defense and went on a 14-0 run, with seven points coming from McNeil, to pull within 30-28 late in the half and set up a tight contest until the final few minutes.
Baylor: The Bears put together a solid offensive effort despite missing Akinjo, an Arizona transfer who leads the team with 13.9 points per game.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers missed several inside baskets after working the ball inside during a key stretch of the second half. They were held to 39.3% from the floor (24 of 61).
Baylor plays at Oklahoma on Saturday. The Bears beat the Sooners 84-74 earlier this month in Waco, Texas.
West Virginia faces its third straight ranked opponent, playing at No. 18 Texas Tech on Saturday.