Preview: WVU - Texas

West Virginia hosts Texas in what many see as a bad matchup for the Mountaineers. How can they overcome the Longhorns height and bulk advantage?


UPDATING THE LONGHORNS

Since handing West Virginia its worst loss of the season (77-50 on Jan. 17), Texas has ridden the same rollercoaster ride that most Big 12 teams have soared and swooped on. The net effect has been a downward trend, though, as UT has gone just 4-6 in the ten games since the Mountaineer meeting. All four wins have come over the bottom three teams in the league, which has left Texas in seventh place and in danger of another first-day play-in game at the Big 12 Championship.

The story for UT remains the combined contributions of its frontcourt players. Jonathan Holmes (6-8, 240 lbs.) leads the parade up front with 10.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and is ably supported by Cameron Ridley (6-9, 285 lbs.), who adds 8.4 points and 5.0 boards per outing. Myles Turner (6-11, 240 lbs.) continues to be very productive in his freshman year, averaging 11.3 points and a team-best 6-7 rebounds per game, and Connor Lammert (6-9, 240 lbs.) adds a sneaky-good 4.9 points and 5.5 boards.

Isaiah Taylor (6-1, 170 lbs.) ahs been the go-to guard for much of the season, averaging 13.4 points per outing. Kendal Yancy (6-3, 200 lbs.) scored 29 in UT's last game, showing his capability to fill up the hoop when teammates aren't in top form.

As usual, it's tough to figure out why Texas doesn't win more. With the deepest front line in the league, and more than adequate guards, UT should be competing for a conference title. Instead, per the norm, it has struggled in this decade. Barnes will be shooting for his 400th career victory at Texas in this game, but many observers believe a number of wins have been left on the court, given the Horns' talent.


OUTLOOK

We've about beaten the "bad matchup" angle into the ground (and been copied religiously in that regard by many others) so it's time for a different approach. What can West Virginia do to overcome the Longhorn onslaught in the lane?

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Tue Feb 24
7:00 PM E
WVU Coliseum
Morgantown, WV
Records
WVU 21-6, 9-5
UT 17-10, 6-8
Series
UT 6-3
TV
ESPN2
Sirius/XM
134/199
RPI
WVU - 24
UT - 40
First and foremost, WVU can't back down on defense. It has to contest the shots that Texas gets in the lane, even if it has no hope of blocking them. It must avoid hacking and sending the Horns on a parade to the foul line, but West Virginia's defenders must at least elevate and try to obscure vision and prevent clean looks for Holmes, Ridley and company. If the Mountaineers don't do that, and stay rooted to the floor, Texas will again score at will.

WVU must also stay active and not allow Texas' bigs to pin them or use their physical size and strength to their advantage. Obviously, that's the Horns' game plan, but to counter it WVU must "run around" UT, in the words of head coach Bob Huggins. That means that when the ball goes up on the boards, WVU can't accept getting boxed out. The Mountaineers must look for gaps and find paths to the glass. They must get around Texas post-up attempts and deny entry passes. Guards have to make it tough to make passes from the perimeter to the post. WVU has to make the lane a buzzing hive of activity, not the static, slow-paced lounge it was in the first contest.

Most of all, the Mountaineers can't change things to try to match up with Texas. That's a recipe for failure. Certainly, WVU will be aware of what Texas does and try to take some of those things away, but they can't suddenly switch to a halfcourt zone defense or put three post players on the court to try to counter UT's lineup. They have to stay within their own framework, and simply execute much better than they did the first time around.

Finally, it would be nice if Brandon Watkins were available for duty, but that is still up in the air. Huggins again termed him "day-to-day", and he was not out on the floor during the interviews that took place prior to practice on Monday.


FAST BREAKS

With a win, West Virginia can lock itself into no worse than a sixth-place finish in the league, and avoid playing in the opening round of the Big 12 Championship on Wed. Mar. 11.

* * *

WVU's Gary Browne has 164 points in his last 18 outings after scoring a total of 31 points in the first nine games. His defensive work has also been excellent -- most recently, he helped limit Phil Forte to just three shot attempts in the Mountaineers' win over Oklahoma State.

* * *

Texas set a new team record for blocked shots a year ago, and will likely eclipse that standard this week. The Horns rejected 206 attempts last year, and have swatted 203 shots this year. Their average of 7.5 per game leads the nation. Expressed another way, UT executes a return to sender of 13.3% of the total shots they see each game.

* * *

Defensively, the teams stand at the opposite end of the national spectrum in turnovers forced per game. WVU, as most know, is first nationally in that stat, causing foes to give it up 20.8 times per outing. Texas is last in the country, having forced just 9.2 opponent miscues per contest. In the teams' first meeting this year, West Virginia had 17 turnovers -- the most of any Texas opponent all season. If the Mountaineers can get that ratio down to the 2-1 figure of the season totals, it will have a much better chance of breaking UT's four-game series winning streak.


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Since handing West Virginia its worst loss of the season (77-50 on Jan. 17), Texas has ridden the same rollercoaster ride that most Big 12 teams have soared and swooped on. The net effect has been a downward trend, though, as UT has gone just 4-6 in the ten games since the Mountaineer meeting. All four wins have come over the bottom three teams in the league, which has left Texas in seventh place and in danger of another first-day play-in game at the Big 12 Championship.

The story for UT remains the combined contributions of its frontcourt players. Jonathan Holmes (6-8, 240 lbs.) leads the parade up front with 10.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and is ably supported by Cameron Ridley (6-9, 285 lbs.), who adds 8.4 points and 5.0 boards per outing. Myles Turner (6-11, 240 lbs.) continues to be very productive in his freshman year, averaging 11.3 points and a team-best 6-7 rebounds per game, and Connor Lammert (6-9, 240 lbs.) adds a sneaky-good 4.9 points and 5.5 boards.

Isaiah Taylor (6-1, 170 lbs.) ahs been the go-to guard for much of the season, averaging 13.4 points per outing. Kendal Yancy (6-3, 200 lbs.) scored 29 in UT's last game, showing his capability to fill up the hoop when teammates aren't in top form.

As usual, it's tough to figure out why Texas doesn't win more. With the deepest front line in the league, and more than adequate guards, UT should be competing for a conference title. Instead, per the norm, it has struggled in this decade. Barnes will be shooting for his 400th career victory at Texas in this game, but many observers believe a number of wins have been left on the court, given the Horns' talent.


We've about beaten the \"bad matchup\" angle into the ground (and been copied religiously in that regard by many others) so it's time for a different approach. What can West Virginia do to overcome the Longhorn onslaught in the lane? First and foremost, WVU can't back down on defense. It has to contest the shots that Texas gets in the lane, even if it has no hope of blocking them. It must avoid hacking and sending the Horns on a parade to the foul line, but West Virginia's defenders must at least elevate and try to obscure vision and prevent clean looks for Holmes, Ridley and company. If the Mountaineers don't do that, and stay rooted to the floor, Texas will again score at will.

WVU must also stay active and not allow Texas' bigs to pin them or use their physical size and strength to their advantage. Obviously, that's the Horns' game plan, but to counter it WVU must \"run around\" UT, in the words of head coach Bob Huggins. That means that when the ball goes up on the boards, WVU can't accept getting boxed out. The Mountaineers must look for gaps and find paths to the glass. They must get around Texas post-up attempts and deny entry passes. Guards have to make it tough to make passes from the perimeter to the post. WVU has to make the lane a buzzing hive of activity, not the static, slow-paced lounge it was in the first contest.

Most of all, the Mountaineers can't change things to try to match up with Texas. That's a recipe for failure. Certainly, WVU will be aware of what Texas does and try to take some of those things away, but they can't suddenly switch to a halfcourt zone defense or put three post players on the court to try to counter UT's lineup. They have to stay within their own framework, and simply execute much better than they did the first time around.

Finally, it would be nice if Brandon Watkins were available for duty, but that is still up in the air. Huggins again termed him \"day-to-day\", and he was not out on the floor during the interviews that took place prior to practice on Monday.



With a win, West Virginia can lock itself into no worse than a sixth-place finish in the league, and avoid playing in the opening round of the Big 12 Championship on Wed. Mar. 11.

* * *

WVU's Gary Browne has 164 points in his last 18 outings after scoring a total of 31 points in the first nine games. His defensive work has also been excellent -- most recently, he helped limit Phil Forte to just three shot attempts in the Mountaineers' win over Oklahoma State.

* * *

Texas set a new team record for blocked shots a year ago, and will likely eclipse that standard this week. The Horns rejected 206 attempts last year, and have swatted 203 shots this year. Their average of 7.5 per game leads the nation. Expressed another way, UT executes a return to sender of 13.3% of the total shots they see each game.

* * *

Defensively, the teams stand at the opposite end of the national spectrum in turnovers forced per game. WVU, as most know, is first nationally in that stat, causing foes to give it up 20.8 times per outing. Texas is last in the country, having forced just 9.2 opponent miscues per contest. In the teams' first meeting this year, West Virginia had 17 turnovers -- the most of any Texas opponent all season. If the Mountaineers can get that ratio down to the 2-1 figure of the season totals, it will have a much better chance of breaking UT's four-game series winning streak.

See what Mountaineer fans are saying here

Show your support—get your gear here!

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