Texas rolled to an easy 88-71 victory over West Virginia Saturday night at the Frank Erwin Events Center in Austin, Texas.
Just as it did in Morgantown a month ago, the Longhorns used their tremendous size to exploit West Virginia’s inexperienced front line, Texas outscoring West Virginia 46-14 in the paint on the way to shooting 57.9 percent for the game.
The Longhorns had a 15-rebound advantage tonight after destroying West Virginia by 19 on the boards the first time out on Jan. 13. And just as it did in Morgantown, Texas jumped out to a double-digit first half advantage and kept it at that margin for most of the game.
"They were the aggressor," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "It's hard for us when we don't make shots and we didn't make shots when we had several very good looks."
With the exception of a 5-0 run at the beginning of the second half that reduced the Longhorns’ lead to six, 40-34, West Virginia just couldn’t keep up with Texas.
A Jonathan Holmes free throw, a Javan Felix jumper and five more points at the foul line from Cameron Ridley and Isaiah Taylor pushed the lead back out to 14 and the closest West Virginia could get the rest of the way was 10, 72-62, following a three-point play by Juwan Staten
The Longhorns’ biggest lead was 21 points with 58 seconds left.
Felix scored 18, Ridley had 17, and Taylor 14 to lead a balanced Longhorn attack.
"You can't let people shoot 58 percent," said Huggins. "I've had teams where they could have brought the Celtics in and they wouldn't shoot 58 percent against us. Our resolve when the ball doesn't go in needs to be way better."
Harris led all scorers with 21, although he made just 5-of-15 from the floor for the game. Staten contributed 14 while Nathan Adrian
scored 10 off the bench while Terry Henderson
also scored 10. West Virginia shot 39.7 percent, including 34.8 percent from 3.
The loss drops West Virginia’s record to 15-11, 7-6.
"They've got really good players and we've got good players, but the truth of the matter is are we ever going to have the five best players in America? Probably not. Can we have the five guys that play the best together? Yes, we can. That's what we've got to strive for," said Huggins.
Texas improves to 20-5, 9-3, and remains a game behind league leader Kansas at 10-2. After today’s action, Oklahoma now moves into sole possession of third place at 8-5, followed by Iowa State and Kansas State tied for fourth at 7-5.
West Virginia drops to sixth place at 7-6 and has a week off before facing Baylor on Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum. The Bears are coming off a big, double-overtime victory over Kansas State earlier tonight to boost their overall record to 16-9. Baylor is now 4-8 in the conference and has struggling Oklahoma State on Monday night in Waco before traveling to Morgantown.