It would’ve been a season-changing win for the ‘Horns, but instead it was a loss by the largest margin of the season.
The story of Texas’ first half showcased some of the ‘Horns’ strengths, but mostly the team’s weaknesses.
The good news was that Mo Bamba’s four first half blocks kept the Mountaineers away from the paint in the early stages of the game, and the ‘Horns were able to showcase their athleticism with some nice transition buckets.
The bad news: Texas continued its season long struggle with turnovers against WVU’s famed press. Matt Coleman’s two early fouls took Texas’ true point guard out of the game for extended periods, and the ‘Horns turned the ball nine times in the first half.
Allowing the Mountaineers to grab 10 offensive boards in the first half further sunk the ‘Horns. All in all, WVU had 18 more shots than Texas in the first frame, shooting 12-39 compared to Texas’ 8-21.
Texas able to battle the Mountaineers in a back and forth affair in the early minutes largely due to starting the game with 7-11 shooting. However, the ‘Horns lost their brief hot hand.
The turning point of the half came on an 11 point run by WVU, as the ‘Horns’ 20-17 lead turned into a 30-20 deficit after going through an 0-9 shooting stretch.
Texas went in to the locker room down 32-22.
West Virginia continued to simply look like the more polished team in the second half, but the ‘Horns made adjustments to keep the Mountaineers from immediately running away with it.
Shaka Smart wisely employed a full-court press just minutes into the second, which seemed to catch WVU off-guard. As a result, Texas was able to force three turnovers in under one minute, and later even caused a five-second violation on an in-bounds pass.
As a result, the ‘Horns were able to cut the lead to eight, and trailed 45-37 with eleven minutes to go.
However, from there it was all WVU. The Mountaineers went on a 15-0 run to take a 23 point lead. West Virginia’s star guard Jevon Carter and three-point specialist James Bolden torched the ‘Horns, as the two combined for 9-13 on threes in the game.
While the ‘Horns have benefitted in recent games by shooters such as Eric Davis and Jase Febres getting hot, none of Texas’ guards stepped up to put the ball in the hoop. No Texas player reached double digits, and Texas was only 3-14 on threes and 17-47 on field goals in the game.
It will be a quick turnaround for Texas, as next up for the ‘Horns will be a date with Iowa State at home on Monday at 6 pm CST. In a relentless Big 12, the game will be a near must-win for Shaka’s team.