Instant Classic: Baylor wins OT thriller, pulls out miracle cover

Baylor clinched its first conference title in 71 years by winning a 94-89 overtime thriller in Morgantown.

Unless you bet on West Virginia +2 in the first half and/or WVU +4 or +4.5 (and/or the Mountaineers at around +170 on the money line) for the game, then you were able to enjoy the best college basketball game of the season late Tuesday afternoon in Morgantown.

In a back-and-forth slugfest, Baylor took a one-point lead with 58 seconds left in overtime. Then the Bears had the possession arrow on a tie-up, made two free throws, drew a charge that could’ve been a play on or been called a block, made two more free throws and then got a stop to pull out a 94-89 win as four-point road favorites.

It was an unfathomable Bad Beat for gamblers on West Virginia. Scott Drew’s team was off its first loss of the season this past Saturday at Kansas.

After a COVID-19 pause caused Baylor to go 18 days without practicing, it had to rally to beat Iowa St. at home in its first game back that preceded the loss at Allen Fielhouse. The Bears appeared to be back in form when they darted out to a double-digit lead on WVU in the opening minutes.

Bob Huggins’s squad would rally, though. In fact, WVU trimmed the deficit to one and got a stop in the final seconds of the first half. This was important since Baylor was a two-point ‘chalk’ for first-half bets.

However, with 1.4 ticks remaining until halftime, WVU was inbounding from the far baseline. Unlike most inbound situations from the far baseline that come after an opponent’s made bucket, this wasn’t after a Baylor basket. Therefore, WVU couldn’t run the baseline before throwing the inbound pass.

So when WVU did just that, it was correctly whistled for a traveling violation to give Baylor the ball back. Then this happened as you can see in the video clip below:

Of course, Baylor buried a buzzer-beating trey to go up four at halftime and cover for first-half backers.

In the final five minutes of regulation, both teams combined to make 10-of-15 field-goal attempts and 7-of-9 free-throw attempts. From the 4:58 mark until 1:05 was remaining, WVU and Baylor combined to bury 9-of-10 FGAs.

There were six ties and 12 lead changes in the final 4:10 of regulation and the extra session.

After Taz Sherman made 1-of-2 at the charity stripe to give WVU an 89-88 advantage with 1:15 remaining in OT, Baylor went in front to stay on Davion Mitchell’s layup with 1:00 left.

Next, Sherman lost the ball off the dribble, resulting in a scramble on the floor that was ruled a tie-up. Baylor had the possession arrow in its favor.

With 37 seconds left, the Bears weren’t in the double bonus yet. Therefore, WVU’s Deuce McBride fouled Adam Flagler right away with 34 seconds remaining. Flagler hit both ends of the one-and-one opportunity for a 92-89 lead.

Seven seconds later, McBride penetrated to his left and was issued a shaky charging call. I thought it was a block or the referee should’ve just let it go without a whistle. McBride certainly didn’t extend his arm and the defender didn’t beat him to the spot. In fact, you could argue that it was a bit of a flop.

Nevertheless, WVU was forced to give a foul with 18 ticks left. Mitchell made both free throws to put Baylor ahead of the number for the first time since MaCio Teague drained a trey for a 40-35 lead with 18:00 remaining.

On the final possession, WVU got two looks at the basket. Sean McNeil missed a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining. Jalen Bridges got the offensive rebound and dished out to Sherman, who missed a triple with one second left. Derek Culver grabbed the offensive board, but time expired before he could get a shot attempt up.

With the win, Baylor clinched its first conference title since it won the Southwest Conference in 1950. Indeed, Drew has done a remarkable job in making this program a perennial Final Four contender after taking over in the wake of the Dave Bliss scandal that included the tragic murder of Patrick Dennehy by a Baylor teammate.

Jared Butler scored a team-best 25 points and dished out six assists for the winners, while Mitchell had 20 points and five assists. Matthew Mayer finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four steals, hitting 7-of-12 FGAs and 3-of-5 launches from downtown.

Sherman had a game-high 26 points for the Mountaineers, while McBride finished with 19 points, eight assists, four boards, two steals and a pair of blocked shots. McNeil buried 7-of-11 FGAs and 4-of-8 from long distance in an 18-point effort.

Let’s just hope these teams collide again, which is a distinct possibility in the Big 12 Tournament and/or deep into the 2021 NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis.

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