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WVU loses heartbreaker to Baylor in overtime

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Kevin Jones scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as West Virginia battled No. 7 Baylor into overtime before falling 83-81. WVU coach Bob Huggins exchanged words with a group of fans after the game.

A thrilling game in Las Vegas saw West Virginia come up just short in overtime against one of only six still undefeated teams in the country, as Baylor pulls out the last second victory, 83-81.

A stellar performance from senior Kevin Jones and clutch play late in the game from freshmen Jabarie Hinds put the Mountaineers in a position to steal a win from the seventh-ranked Bears, but strategic breakdown and hurried offensive possessions in overtime allowed Baylor to hold off WVU and keep their record untarnished.

After battling from a ten-point deficit at half, the Mountaineers set themselves up with a three point lead with one minute remaining in regulation. After a costly skip pass turnover for WVU, Baylor guard Pierre Jackson, who had 23 points and 5 rebounds off the bench for the Bears, nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 76 with 15.4 seconds remaining. A missed shot by WVU allowed Baylor to get the rebound and call a quick timeout with 2.2 second on the clock. Both the Baylor offense and WVU defense readied their half court sets, leaving a lone Baylor player to heave a baseball style pass down court. The pass was good, and senior forward Quincy Acy caught it on the right corner of the key, turning to shoot with time running out, but his jumper rattled around the rim and fell to the floor, pushing the game to overtime.

In overtime, Baylor keyed on and shut down Jones, who was held pointless in the overtime period. It seemed the Mountaineers were rushing their offensive sets and struggling to get good shot opportunities, whereas the Baylor Bears were able to exploit their good outside shooting just as they had the entire game. Despite these setbacks, WVU was given the chance to tie the game or take the lead after a 3-pointer by Hinds (18 pts, 4-5 from 3-point range) and a turnover by Baylor brought the Mountaineers within two. Anther forced shot by WVU, and a Baylor rebound, allowed the Bears to run the clock to 15 seconds before they attempted a 3-point shot, but this shot was blocked by the WVU defender. Hinds scooped up the loose ball and pushed down the court with the final seconds running off the clock, pulling up at the right corner of the key, but missed the last shot as time expired, ending the game at 83-81.

The Mountaineers showed great resilience and offensive potential, putting up 81 points against one the county's best teams, although only three players were in the double digits scoring wise. Most of the offensive output came from Jones, whose 28 points was one of the highest scoring games of his four years at WVU.

Free throw shooting hurt the Mountaineers in this game, as they were only 8 of 15 from the floor, a few extra points that made a big difference late in this game.

Baylor’s long range attack was too much for the Mountaineers. Lead by Brady Heslip, a sophomore transfer from Boston College, who had 19 points and was 5-7 from 3-point range, the Bears put up 36 points from downtown.

Although the Mountaineers did record 14 offensive rebounds in the match-up, they were limited by they hip pointer injury suffered by junior forward Deniz Kilicli in the Mountaineers’ victory over Missouri State Friday night. He is usually Jones’s counterpart underneath, but was only able to contribute 7 points after having to leave early in the second half.

WVU opens their Big East play after a short Christmas break on Wednesday, December 28th as they face Villanova at 7:00 PM in the WVU Coliseum.

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