No. 5 Texas looks to get back on the winning track and secure a season sweep against West Virginia when the teams square off on Saturday afternoon in a key Big 12 Conference battle in Austin, Texas.
The Longhorns (19-5, 8-3 Big 12) head home after an 88-80 loss at No. 9 Kansas on Monday. Texas trailed by 14 points 11 minutes into the game but rallied to draw to within a point early in the second half. But that was as close as the Longhorns would get, and their two-game winning streak ended.
It was Texas’ fourth straight contest against an opponent ranked in the top 11 in the AP poll, including three road games. The Longhorns went 2-2 in that span, and they carry a one-game lead in the Big 12 standings into the Saturday contest.
“We obviously didn’t have our best game (against Kansas),” Texas interim coach Rodney Terry said. “Probably one of the worst first halves we’ve had all year long. We didn’t play the type of defense we’ve been playing the last few ballgames.
“But we had great execution coming out … of halftime — we didn’t give up second-chance points and we took better care of the basketball. And as a result of that, we were in position to get things done. We live to (see) another day, I tell our guys that all the time.”
Texas’ Marcus Carr led all scorers with 29 points, 22 of them in the second half, while Timmy Allen had 18 and Sir’Jabari Rice tallied 12 in the loss. Four of the Longhorns’ five defeats this season came against teams that were ranked when the game was played.
The Mountaineers (15-9, 4-7) travel to Austin after a rousing 76-71 home win over No. 11 Iowa State on Wednesday. West Virginia got 22 points from Kedrian Johnson and 20 from Emmitt Matthews Jr., and, uncharacteristically, won the game at the free-throw line after going the final 5 1/2 minutes without a field goal.
The Mountaineers went 26 of 31 from the charity stripe and scored their final eight points on foul shots. West Virginia led by 15 points late in the first half but had to battle to hold off Iowa State down the stretch, as the Cyclones led by one with 1:26 to play.
“I was a little nervous when we lost the 15-point lead,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We beat arguably the best team in the league. (Iowa State is) good. They’re extremely well-coached and they don’t have a lot of flaws. We played hard, and I think our guards did a really good job.”
The win was West Virginia’s third over a team ranked in the top 15 in the past three weeks. The Mountaineers have won four of their past five games overall. Now they have another opportunity to continue their ascent.
“You know the saying about how you’ve dug yourself a hole and now you have to climb out of it,” Huggins said. “You get to where you are almost out of it, but you know you can fall back in and you don’t want to do that. That’s a part of our competitiveness now. It’s why we’re playing so much harder than we played before.”
The Longhorns beat the Mountaineers 69-61 on Jan. 21 in Morgantown, W.Va., Texas’ eighth win in the teams’ past 10 meetings.
–Field Level Media