Texas throws wrench into Big 12 race, beats No. 6 West Virginia
With No. 6 West Virginia convincingly beating No. 3 Kansas last week and losing to No. 1 Oklahoma on a Khadeem Lattin tip-in with less than five seconds remaining, Bob Huggins’ team rightfully moved up in the national polls released Monday. But Wednesday night’s home game against Texas served as a reminder of what can happen to “Press Virginia” when they aren’t forcing turnovers and can’t make free throws.
Shaka Smart’s team took good care of the ball throughout, committing just eight turnovers, and West Virginia managed to shoot just 8-for-23 from the foul line. Add in a 31.1 percent shooting night from the field, and the end result for the Mountaineers was a 56-49 home defeat few saw coming.
Of all the players on the court Texas senior Javan Felix was the only one who could put together a respectable night offensively, as he scored a game-high 17 points on 4-for-9 shooting from the field and 7-for-8 from the foul line. As important was the fact that he and fellow guard Isaiah Taylor combined to commit just one turnover, quite the achievement when considering what West Virginia is capable of doing with its full-court pressure.
The lack of live-ball turnovers kept West Virginia from getting scoring opportunities in the open floor, and as a result the Longhorns were able to force the Mountaineers to find (and make) shots in the half-court. WVU couldn’t make those shots, shooting 3-for-21 from three, and despite rebounding 47.1 percent of their misses (24 offensive boards) the Mountaineers produced just 14 second-chance points.
These kind of offensive nights were always the concern regarding West Virginia, even with players such as Jevon Carter and Jaysean Paige stepping forward at various points into the “shot-maker” role held by Juwan Staten in each of the two seasons prior. Texas took away the “easy” shots by taking care of the basketball, and the end result was a quality win for a team that’s already beaten the likes of No. 2 North Carolina and No. 19 Iowa State.