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First half explosion leads West Virginia to 77-62 victory over Texas

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Monday’s matchup went just as many could have expected.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

A 10-win Texas Longhorns team entered Morgantown faced with the tall task of competing with one of the nation’s best in No. 12 West Virginia, and the final outcome was as expected — a comfortable 77-62 Mountaineers victory.

For a brief moment, it appeared the ‘Horns had legitimate hope of keeping things close following a 10-2 edge over WVU to kick things off. Things soon went south, though, and following a 17-10 Texas advantage, the Mountaineers exploded for a 21-3 run, which led the way for what became a 44-22 stretch to close the half after trailing early.

By intermission, Texas was face-to-face with what seemed like a mountain-sized deficit, trailing 46-32, although Jarrett Allen continued to be a bright spot for the ‘Horns with nine points and a dunk of the year candidate.

Alternatively, shortly after one of the few exiting moments favoring Texas throughout the night, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins hit the ground during a timeout, prompting medical attention. Fortunately, Huggins was back on his feet within seconds.

The second half of action would prove to be much more competitive on the scoreboard, as West Virginia only outscored Texas 31-30, though there was never much real pressure on the Mountaineers courtesy of the first half explosion. Thus, West Virginia enjoyed a double-digit cushion throughout the second half and a missed free throw here and there and simply failing to execute offensively and connect on shots prevented the ‘Horns from ever making a real push.

In short, which was to be expected from a young Longhorns team and a West Virginia team that thrives on defensive intensity, Texas rarely enjoyed the luxury of open looks and in the few occasions that was the case, shots just didn't fall. Despite the pressure, Texas managed to shoot 44.9 percent from the field — just shy of West Virginia’s 45.9 percent — but while the ‘Horns struggled from deep, hitting just 3-13 looks, the Mountaineers rained in 10-24.

More notably, in a game where much had to go right for Texas to have a chance, the ‘Horns turned the ball over 15 times — many of which occurred during WVU’s 44-22 first half run.

Senior Jevon Carter led the way for West Virginia with 24 points on 9-17 from the field, while freshman small forward Lamont West provided a significant advantage off the bench with 23 points; 20 of which came in the first half behind five three-pointers. West Virginia’s bench outscored Texas’ bench 36-4.

Per usual, Allen headlined the ‘Horns offensive output with 17 points. Eric Davis Jr. added 14 points on a 6-14 shooting display, while Kerwin Roach Jr. and Andrew Jones reached double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively. No other Longhorn scored more than two points. James Banks also led the game with four blocks in 22 minutes.

Monday night’s loss in Morgantown now gives the ‘Horns their fourth-straight loss with three tremendously difficult matchups remaining — No. 3 Kansas, Texas Tech in Lubbock and No. 9 Baylor.

Texas is now 10-18 (4-11) on the season.