In conference play, the No. 5 Texas Longhorns have tended to fall behind early while showing a penchant for overcoming double-digit deficits. On Saturday at the Moody Center, however, acting head coach Rodney Terry’s team took advantage of a West Virginia Mountaineers team that has struggled on the road in an easy 94-60 victory to sweep the regular-season series and remain in first place in the Big 12.
Off the bench, Texas guard Sir’Jabari Rice led the way for the Longhorns, scoring a season-high 24 points in an efficient performance that featured 5-of-6 shooting from the field, including 4-of-5 shooting from three, and 10-of-10 shooting at the free-throw line in only 17 minutes. As a team, Texas made its first 24 free throws and 30 straight dating back to the Kansas game.
After settling for one-on-one basketball against the Jayhawks with only six assists, the Longhorns had better ball and player movement in assisting on 16-of-30 made baskets.
In a disturbing trend for West Virginia, the Mountaineers were careless with the basketball throughout the game, leading to 32 Texas points on 20 turnovers and a 23-7 advantage in fast-break points.
West Virginia forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. got off to a hot start by making his first four shot attempts, including a three-pointer, while Texas moved the ball better early than they did against Kansas with four assists on the first six baskets with two assists coming from forward Dylan Disu.
At the 13:14 mark, a mid-range jumper for Texas forward Timmy Allen pushed him over the 2,000-point plateau for his career. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers continued to struggle with turnovers, giving the ball away five times by the under-12 timeout after committing 20 turnovers in Morgantown last month.
With a three from guard Sir’Jabari Rice, the Horns used a 12-2 run to take a six-point lead, but guard Brock Cunningham turned the ball over after an offensive rebound, leading to a three-point play for Mountaineers guard Kedrian Johnson. Carr responded, however, by hitting a three, the third of the game for Texas, matching the total from the game in Morgantown in less than 10 minutes. A jumper from Carr and free throws from Allen and Disu extended the lead to 12 points thanks to the 9-0 run as West Virginia went 3:10 without scoring while missing six shots in a row.
When guard Arterio Morris hit a three, the lead extended to 15 points while the Mountaineers continued to commit unforced turnovers, getting up to nine at the 6:12 mark leading to 15 points for the Longhorns. Twenty-three seconds later, a jumper by Seth Wilson ended a stretch of more than five minutes without a basket.
Another three from Morris following a layup by Allen produced by the 10th turnover by West Virginia stretched the lead to 19 points. The Mountaineers went to a zone defense that got the Longhorns out of rhythm for a short stretch, but an offensive rebound by Allen led to two free throws and Rice earned four more he converted for a 20-point lead.
A steal by Morris led by a transition dunk for Rice to cap the first half with a 51-30 margin thanks to 13 forced turnovers, 5-of-7 shooting from three, and a 16-of-16 mark from the free-throw line. Some more dominant numbers — Texas held 21-5 edge in points off turnovers, a 13-3 advantage in fast-break points, and a 26-8 margin in bench scoring.
The second half got off to a brutal start with more awful turnovers by West Virginia and Texas missing its first six shots from the field, including three ugly misses from scoreless guard Tyrese Hunter. A three and two free throws from Rice finally got the Longhorns on track, ensuring extended garbage time in the game as neither team was particularly sharp for long stretches.
Texas travels to Lubbock for a Big Monday matchup with Texas Tech before hosting Oklahoma, two more games the Longhorns need to win to remain atop the conference standings.