MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - If a team wants a postseason presence, it needs a post presence.
The former is a shaky proposition for West Virginia - especially in regards to the NCAA men's basketball tournament - and the latter is why the team's position on the bubble is tenuous, at best.
"Size has kind of been our downfall this year," WVU point guard Juwan Staten said after the Mountaineers were defeated by Baylor, 88-75, Saturday inside the Coliseum.
Staten is spot on identifying the, uhh, big problem. WVU is 15-12 overall after losing by double figures for the third time in two weeks. The Mountaineers are 9-1 when they score more points in the paint than their opposition, and 6-11 when they're on the wrong side of that number.
Baylor dominated the 12-foot-wide yellow-painted key area Saturday by a score of 38-12.
The Bears played five players 6-foot-6 or taller, and they combined for 60 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists and 10 blocked shots. WVU's fivesome of 6-6 or taller combined for 19 points, 18 rebounds, three assists and two rejections.
It didn't matter that the Mountaineers made more than half their 3-pointers (11 for 21), 80 percent of their foul shots (20 for 25) and only turned it over four times, or that Eron Harris was red-hot and made his first six 3s in a 32-point effort.
"I don't really think it was our offense," said Staten, who had one turnover in 40 minutes. "We got a couple shots blocked and we can't simulate their size ... that's not really what happened. The first time we played them I think (Cory) Jefferson had 6 points, (Isaiah) Austin 5 or 6. Tonight was the complete opposite.
"They scored almost every time they caught the ball in the paint ... we did a terrible job on defense."
Jefferson and Austin each scored 6 in WVU's 66-64 win at Baylor last month. They combined for 34 points this time around.
"They came out and really went inside," Staten said.
"Once you get two guys like Austin and Jefferson that get it going and start getting their touch and making shots and playing with confidence, you're pretty much at their mercy."
It has been a season of inferior on the interior for the Mountaineers.
WVU has been outscored in the paint in six consecutive games. That'll happen to a team when its top three scorers - in this case Staten, Harris and Terry Henderson - have heights of 6-1, 6-3 and 6-4.
The last time the Mountaineers' top three scorers were all under 6-6 was 1986, when Dale Blaney, Holman Harley and Renardo Brown led the way.
WVU cannot keep pace in the paint, but that is more of a defensive shortcoming.