MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Pardon Baylor star guard Pierre Jackson, but his coach thinks maybe he is too nice of a guy.
"Pierre is one of those players who gets his teammates involved first and usually picks up his offense," coach Scott Drew said. "Sometimes we'd prefer if he would score right from the beginning, but obviously his assists make our offense work. He missed a couple through passes, but at the end of the day he made enough of them."
The Big 12 Conference's leading scorer was one of three Bears who scored double figures Wednesday to help edge West Virginia 65-62 to snap a three-game losing string and keep hopes alive of an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
The Bears (17-11 overall, 8-7 Big 12) not only had lost three in a row, but six of their past eight. Coming in, they led West Virginia (13-15, 6-9) by just one game for sixth place in the league.
West Virginia has lost three in a row and is in danger of having the first losing season in the program since former coach John Beilein's first year here in 2002-03. That group finished 14-15. The Mountaineers have gone to five straight NCAA tournaments under coach Bob Huggins.
Baylor was led by Isaiah Austin's 21 points. Jackson added 15 and A.J. Walton finished with 10 before fouling out.
Freshman guard Eron Harris scored a career-high 25 points for the Mountaineers. Kevin Noreen finished with 10.
Noreen's 3-point shot brought the Mountaineers within 63-62 with 1:36 to go, but teammate Juwan Staten's 3-point try was blocked by Austin at the end.
"It's tough when it's a three-point game and you have to get a 3 and the defense knows what you are looking for," Drew said. "I thought we defended it well, and Isaiah (Austin) did a good job in contesting the shot, and it's tough shooting over the guy."
Jackson made two free throws with 17.9 seconds left to provide icing for the Bears. He also handed out five assists.
He finished 4 of 13 from the field, 1 of 5 from 3-point range, but Jackson was more active in the second half.
Jackson was 1 of 3 from the floor in the first half, his second straight slow start. In a 90-76 loss to Oklahoma last Saturday, he was just 1 of 8 from the floor in the first half, but he finished with 28 points for the game.
After scoring only five points before intermission, he had 10 in the second half.
"I was just trying to get everyone involved. I got Brady (Heslip) some good shots and Isaiah some good shots. I didn't want to force anything, any shots that I didn't have to. Second half, it's my job to start being more aggressive and just do anything I can to get points on the board and get stops," Jackson said.
Baylor trailed the Sooners by 26 a game ago and was behind West Virginia by five this night.
In fact, West Virginia led 39-32 with 17:30 remaining before Baylor scored five points in 1 minute, 13 seconds to make it 39-37.
West Virginia kept Baylor at arm's length at 48-43 with 13:19 showing until the Bears mounted their second comeback of the half. They scored seven in a row with a key 3-pointer by Gary Franklin to give the visitors their first lead, 50-48, since 9:56 was left in the first half.
After Harris — who hit 7 of 14 shots and 10 of 13 free throws — tied the game with two foul shots at the 9:33 mark, the 7-foot-1 Austin knocked in his second trey of the night.
The score was 53-50 with 9:17 left. Baylor never trailed again.
Noreen's late-game 3-pointer pulled WVU within one, but Austin blocked Staten's shot at the end.
"In the scouting report, Coach said (Staten's) favorite was the left-hand, hesitation pull-up, so that's what he did, and I just stuck my left hand up there and got a piece of it," said Austin.
The Mountaineers outrebounded the Bears 42-32, including 21-12 on the offensive end. However, Huggins' team was just 8 of 29 from the field (27.6 percent) in the second half and made 35.7 percent (20 of 56) for the game.
Baylor was 12 of 23 in the second half (52.2 percent) and 43.4 percent (23 of 53) in the game.
Harris became the first West Virginia player to score at least 20 in a game since Jan. 23. His best night as a freshman was only the seventh game this season a Mountaineer has scored at least 20.
West Virginia has scored as many as 65 points only five times this season.