West Virginia entered Saturday night's contest as winners of four of its last five, including a 102-77 dismantling of Iowa State in the Mountaineers' last time out. But they were no match for a Texas team that shot 57.9 percent from the field while also holding down top Mountaineer scoring threats Juwan Staten and Eron Harris.
The Longhorns were actually over 60 percent shooting as a team until some missed shots in the final minute of the game. By that point, the 'Horns (20-5, 9-3 Big 12) had an unassailable lead and their 20th win of the season.
"I think it's one of the best games we've had as far as moving the ball," said Texas guard Demarcus Holland.
Like the game in Morgantown, Texas raced out to a double-digit first-half lead, ending the first half with a 40-29 advantage. This time, West Virginia bounced back, cutting the lead to six early in the second half before the Longhorns ran away with it, executing impeccably against the
From a points perspective, both Harris (21) and Staten (14) scored, though they shot a combined 11-of-31 from the floor to get there.
"It was really a team effort in the fact that we felt our transition defense had to get all five guys back because he (Staten) is such a terrific open-court player," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "Look at the numbers, I don't know if there is another player in the country that is more efficient, more effective and we knew that having five guys back would help in transition."And the Longhorns aided the Mountaineer cause by fouling three-point shooters on four different occasions, helping West Virginia add easy points at the free throw line.
In the paint, it wasn't even close. Texas scored 46 points inside to just 14 for West Virginia, while grabbing 41 rebounds to 26 Mountaineer boards. A big part of that advantage came from Cameron Ridley, who scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots, leaving the game after 26 minutes to loud applause from an appreciative Frank Erwin Center crowd.
"When I dunk or block a shot, I mean, it gets the crowd into it and it gets the team pumped up and it gives us an edge on offense and defense because the adrenaline starts pumping," Ridley said.
It didn't hurt that Ridley was often teamed with Jonathan Holmes in his first game back after suffering a knee injury against Kansas State. Holmes scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds while looking spry and bouncy, with the knee injury appearing to be behind him.
West Virginia also wound up with five double-digit scorers, though two came off the bench, and the Mountaineers shot under 40 percent as a team.
Kansas pounded TCU on Saturday, meaning the Longhorns are still a game behind the Jayhawks in the Big 12 standings. And the Longhorns also put a bit of space between themselves and the charge for second place with Kansas State falling to Baylor. That means that each of the teams behind Texas in the Big 12 standings have at least five losses to the Longhorns' three.
Texas will play at one of those five-loss teams on Tuesday with an important trip to Iowa State before heading to Kansas next Saturday. Win both, and the Longhorns will be, at worst, tied for first place in the conference. But if Texas loses both, the Longhorns will be back with the rest of the Big 12 pack.
Tip-off in Ames is set for 6 p.m.