Horns Lock Down Mountaineers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Texas rolls over West Virginia 66-49 to move on to the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.

It's tough to choose the best indicator of just how dominant Texas was over West Virginia in the first half that boosted the Longhorns to a 66-49 win.

Was it when Bob Huggins called a timeout with 12:24 left in the first stanza, with Texas up 17-2, and he simply threw up his hands and shrugged his shoulders?

"Well, I certainly didn't see it coming," Huggins said afterward.

Or what about when, with less than two minutes left in the first half, West Virginia and Javan Felix were tied with 10 points apiece?

"Lately we've been coming out second-guessing ourselves and not being aggressive," Felix said. "We just wanted to get back to being aggressive and attacking from the very beginning. And I think we did a good job of that at the start of the game and kind of carried over throughout the game."

Either way, the Longhorns put together arguably their most complete half of the year in romping over a Mountaineer team that entered the game desperate for a few wins to try and improve their NCAA bid. Instead of the tight game that many expected — KenPom predicted a 77-75 squeaker — Texas entered the locker room with a 35-14 halftime lead.

Just how impressive was that defensive effort? West Virginia entered the game with the No. 15 offense in the country per KenPom's Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, but put up just 0.467 Points Per Possession in the first half. The Mountaineers average 1.133 PPP on the season. By more conventional metrics, West Virginia shot just 6-of-33 (18.2 percent) from the field, including a 0-for-8 effort from behind the arc. And the Longhorns kept the Mountaineers off the free throw line, with the 'Eers making 2-of-3.

"I think as a whole, that was our best half defensively," said Demarcus Holland.

Meanwhile, Texas rolled offensively, shooting 50 percent from the floor behind 11 points from Jonathan Holmes and 10 from Felix.

"First half I thought we were defensively really, really good, as good as we've been in a while," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "And even offensively it gave us a chance to get out and get in the open court."

Texas pretty much coasted through the second half with West Virginia never naming a run. Holmes finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while Felix had 16 points and six assists. Perhaps most importantly, because of the bloated victory margin, no Longhorn played 30 minutes, meaning Texas, which took two days off this week to help its weary legs, should be well-rested.

First-team All-Big 12 guard Juwan Staten finished 1-for-11 from the floor and scored just four points. Reserve big man Brandon Watkins was the only Mountaineer in double-figures with 10.

West Virginia (17-15, 9-9 Big 12) entered the game needing to make a statement to make the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Mountaineers will likely be headed to the NIT despite a .500 record in arguably the toughest conference in America.

Texas (23-9, 11-7) will move on to play Baylor in the 8:30 p.m. game Friday. The Longhorns swept the Bears on the season, though the second game, a 74-69 win in Austin, was close down the stretch and could have gone either way.

As the No. 7 seed, Baylor has already played two games, beating TCU, then Oklahoma to get to Friday's contest.

In the early game, at 6 p.m., Kansas will play Iowa State.

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