Big 12 Tournament: Texas Cruises Past West Virginia, 66-49

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Holmes leads the Longhorns to the semifinals to face a surging Baylor squad.

By the first media timeout of Texas's match up with West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals, the Longhorns had already jumped out to a 12-0 lead over the Mountaineers.  By halftime, Texas had extended their advantage to a 21 points and grew the lead to 30 points with just under 6 minutes remaining in the game, en route to a 66-49 blowout victory.

The third meeting between the two teams this season followed much the same script as the first two: (i) West Virginia struggled both to hit jumpers (0-8 from beyond the arc in the first half, 6-20 for the game) and to score around the rim (WVU shot just 31% on two-point shots, thanks in part to UT's 7 blocked shots in the paint); (ii) Texas shot well both inside the arc (15-28 on 2-pt FGs) and beyond it (7-17 on three pointers), and (iii) the Longhorns enjoyed a huge advantage in the free throw department, earning 23 attempts from the charity stripe to just 5 for the Mountaineers.  All told, another comfortable, double-digit win for Texas over WVU.

Game ball to Jonathan Holmes, who delivered 18 of the most ridiculously efficient and effective minutes you'll ever see: 20 points on 7-8 shooting (including 2-3 from three-point range and 4-4 at the line), with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 block, 1 steal, and just 1 foul. Absolutely filthy. Think the conference coaches might have gotten Juwan Staten and Holmes backwards on the All-Big 12 First and Second Teams?

Brief notes beyond Holmes:

*  It was nice to see Javan Felix shooting in good rhythm at the Sprint Center today (4-8 from three-point range), which will hopefully carry forward, giving Texas a much needed scoring threat from the perimeter.

*  Texas more or less hit my magic numbers for the game, finishing with 7 three-pointers along with 23 free throw attempts (+18 margin over WVU), and throughout the game aggressively pushed the ball and attacked the rim, frequently resulting in great scoring looks early in the shot clock.

*  The Longhorns' delivered a very impressive defensive effort that utterly exasperated the Mountaineers guards, who couldn't buy a jumper and couldn't get near the rim.

With the win, the Longhorns advance to Friday night's semifinal round, where they'll meet No. 7 seed Baylor following the Bears' 78-73 win over Oklahoma today. Although Baylor pissed away a lot of their regular season and Texas swept the regular season series with the Bears, to make it a perfect three for three, Texas's frontcourt will need to be even stronger than it was tonight, because Cory Jefferson is in full Beast Mode right now. Jefferson's production over the last four games, all Baylor wins:

Cory_jefferson_last_four_games_medium

A guy like Jefferson is too strong and athletic to shut out, but the goal is to match his physicality, limit him from monster-dunking you to death, in large part by disallowing him from having a field day on the offensive glass.

Should be a fun one. Tip off tomorrow night is at 8:30 pm CT.  The game will be televised on ESPNU and the Big 12 Network.

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