Senior point guard Jevon Carter had 18 points, 11 assists and six steals and No. 18 West Virginia forced 22 turnovers en route to a 78-65 victory over Baylor in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Junior forward Esa Ahmad contributed 21 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the third-seeded Mountaineers (23-9). Senior guard Daxter Miles Jr. made five 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 19 points as West Virginia’s pressure defense stifled the sixth-seeded Bears.
Senior guard Manu Lecomte had 27 points and senior forward Terry Maston added 11 for Baylor (18-14), which lost for the fourth time in five games.
The Mountaineers face second-seeded Texas Tech in Friday’s semifinals.
West Virginia totaled 12 steals and had a 22-8 edge in points scored off turnovers while beating the Bears for the third time this season. Baylor committed 57 turnovers in the three setbacks.
“We have to play this way,” Carter said of the pace in a postgame interview with ESPN2. “We’ve got to keep it up. We have to win two more games to bring that championship trophy home.”
Miles made three 3-pointers in a 60-second span to cap an 11-0 surge that allowed West Virginia to open up a 40-27 lead with 16:33 remaining.
The Mountaineers’ advantage reached 14 points before Baylor used an 8-3 run to cut its deficit to 49-40 with 10:01 left. Ahmed responded with five consecutive points to push the margin right back to 14 with 9:28 to play.
Miles drained his fourth 3-pointer of the half to make it 59-42 with 7:28 remaining. He added two free throws 27 seconds later to boost the lead to 19.
Lecomte buried a 3-pointer to bring the Bears within 74-65 with 42 seconds left. Ahmed delivered the final blow with a steal and dunk with 31.3 seconds left for the final 13-point margin.
Earlier, Carter swished a 60-foot buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give West Virginia a 29-23 halftime lead.
The Mountaineers closed the half with a 20-5 burst after falling behind by nine points.
Senior forward Nuni Omot knocked down a 3-pointer to give Baylor an 18-9 lead before West Virginia seized control. The Mountaineers inched ahead at 21-20 on Ahmed’s layup with 3:55 left and later merrily rushed off the court after Carter’s dramatic toss leading into the break.
“It felt good, it looked good,” Carter said. “I just waited for it to drop in.”
—Field Level Media