#15 Baylor (17-5, 6-3) at #14 West Virginia (18-4, 7-2)
When: Saturday, February 6th 2016
Where: WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, WV
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN2
The West Virginia Mountaineers will try and stay at the top of the Big 12 standings when they host the 15th-ranked Baylor Bears on Saturday night. West Virginia has won three of their last four games after beating 13th-ranked Iowa State in Ames on Tuesday 81-76. The lone loss in that stretch was a non-conference game at Florida in which they were dominated from start to finish. The Mountaineers will likely be without suspended forward Jonathan Holton (9.6 points, 7.5 rebounds) again but forward Devin Williams broke out of a slump with a big game against Iowa State. Williams (13.2 points, 8.9 rebounds) was shooting 33.3% from the floor in the previous five games before recording 17 points and 18 rebounds against the Cyclones for his 10th double-double of the season. He also needs just 39 points to become the Mountaineers’ 50th 1,000-point scorer. Guard Jaysean Paige leads the Mountaineers with an average of 14 points a game while guards Jevon Carter (10.4 points) and Daxter Miles, Jr., (10.3 points) have combined for 75 steals. West Virginia’s full-court press has caused a lot of problems for opponents this season and as a result they lead the nation in steals per game (10.6), and forced-turnovers (19.4), while averaging 22.9 points off those turnovers. West Virginia will get another ranked opponent on Tuesday when they visit 7th-ranked Kansas.
Baylor will be looking for their fourth-consecutive Big 12 road victory, which would set a school-record since joining the conference. The Bears are only a game back of West Virginia and Oklahoma in the conference and are tied for third with Kansas and Texas. Baylor is coming off a 67-59 home loss to unranked Texas after beating Georgia 83-73 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Rico Gathers, who has made 61.3% of his shots for 17.7 points during his last three games, averages 13.0 points and a league-high 10.4 rebounds per contest. Taurean Prince leads the Bears with 15.1 points and is the only player ranked in the top 20 in scoring, rebounding (5.9), assists (2.5) and steals (1.6) in the Big 12. Al Freeman (11.8 points) and Johnathan Motley (10.8) also average double figures while Lester Medford (9.0 points) leads the Big 12 with 7.1 assists per game. Gathers (1,076) needs two rebounds to pass Texas’ James Thomas (1,077) for fourth place and eight more to pass Missouri’s Arthur Johnson (1,083) for third place on the Big 12 career rebounds list. Baylor will get two of the four teams with losing records in the conference next week when they visit Kansas State and host Texas Tech.
I think Baylor will be overwhelmed by the press here tonight. West Virginia is a better team all-around and I think the line is very generous.
Pick: West Virginia -6.5