WACO, Texas - In the moment, Juwan Staten and his West Virginia teammates could not have recognized and would not have believed that his two missed free throws with 48.1 seconds to go would actually win them Tuesday night's game here.
But those two misses in a game the Mountaineers led by one point, combined with the totality of Staten's unlikely 1-for-6 night at the foul line, led him to keep the ball in his hands in the final seconds.
Staten flipped in a reverse layup off the backboard with 3.1 seconds to go and Kenny Chery's 3-pointer that banked in and would have won the game for Baylor was instead still in his hands as the buzzer sounded and the Mountaineers escaped the Ferrell Center and a crowd of 5,529 with a 66-64 win.
"I felt like I let the team down missing a couple free throws and felt like I needed to do something," said Staten, who made a game-winner at home against Virginia Tech last season and missed a game-winner at home against Oklahoma State this season. "I pretty much knew I was the one who was going to take the shot. That was something I'd made up in my mind. I felt like I'd given the game away and it was up to me. I wouldn't sleep at night if I didn't do something to win that game."
Staten had 15 points, nine assists and just one turnover and played all 40 minutes. For a second straight game, the junior from Dayton, Ohio, didn't commit a foul. Eron Harris missed 10 of 14 shots, but had 12 points and Terry Henderson made three 3 on the way to 11 points. Remi Dibo came off the bench to make three 3s and score 13 points, the most he's had since scoring 19 against Loyola on Dec. 2.
The Mountaineers (12-9, 4-4 Big 12) finally beat a Big 12 team outside of the Texas-TCU-Texas Tech group that finished below them in the Big 12 standings last season, their first in the conference. They had just six turnovers and assisted on 16 of 24 baskets. After being outrebounded by 11 in the first half, WVU outrebounded Baylor by one in the second half and outscored the much taller and bigger Bears 24-14 in the paint.
"That's just the way we always play," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.
"Well, the way we always used to play. We're starting to play that way again."
The Bears (13-7, 1-6) have lost five in a row and find themselves out of the top 25 and not even receiving votes after they were ranked No. 7 before their first Big 12 game Jan. 7. Brady Heslip shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range and made things interesting with a late one. He finished with 13 points. Taurean Prince had 11 points off the bench and Chery added 10. Baylor's 7-foot Isaiah Austin and 6-foot-9 Cory Jefferson both had just six points and five rebounds.
Baylor committed 16 turnovers and the Mountaineers had a crucial 18-0 edge in points off turnovers.
"We did a bunch of things right, but we did a bunch of things wrong, too," Harris said. "At the end of the day, we did more things right than they did. That's why we won."
The Mountaineers could have made things easier at the end just as surely as it could have gone the other way for them. Staten's winner was the team's only basket in the final 5:25 and Chery was a beat away from releasing in time to make his shot count.