After reaching its highest ranking in the AP Poll since 2010 at the beginning of this week, West Virginia rolled out its worst performance of the year tonight against the Longhorns.
The Mountaineers’ foul shooting woes, which have been highly publicized this season, once again bit them in the tail tonight. West Virginia went 8-for-23 from the charity stripe in a seven-point loss to Texas.
“We missed easy shots and we missed free throws…We weren’t ready to play. We had a horrible practice yesterday to the point where I just told them get out,” said head coach Bob Huggins on the Mountaineer Sports Network IMG post game radio show.
It was West Virginia’s first loss at home this season, and Texas beat the Mountaineers at their own game tonight. Shaka Smart made his fortune at VCU with his “Havoc” full court press style, and his experience in that area seemed to help his Longhorns deal with West Virginia’s pressure tonight.
The Mountaineers were only able to force the Longhorns into eight turnovers on the night, and gave the ball up 11 times themselves.
Texas played an all-around better game than West Virginia tonight, including at the foul line where the Longhorns outscored the Mountaineers by 10, finishing 18-of-30 from the stripe.
West Virginia wasn’t able to get anything going on offense at all against the Longhorns. The Mountaineers took 20 more shots than Texas tonight, but converted just three more times than the Longhorns. The Mountaineers finished 19-of-61 from the floor, 31-percent overall, and went just 3-for-21 from beyond the arc.
“It’s amazing how much attitude affects not just your performance, but your outlook on things,” Huggins said.
“Your attitude affects so many things. You see it coming. I’ve been doing this a long, long, long time and I don’t know how to stop it. I want to apologize to all the people who fought very inclement weather, Went through snow and traffic and all that to get here to watch that. It’s an embarrassment. I apologize.”
Isaiah Taylor contributed just four points for Texas tonight, but his guard running mate Javan Felix led all scorers with 17 points, including a late 3 that put WVU out of its misery in the final minutes.
The Mountaineers dominated the battle of the boards tonight, outrebounding Texas 49-33 overall and 24-6 in offensive rebounding. With such a decided advantage on the offensive glass, WVU had plenty of extra looks at the basket tonight, but was only able to get 14 second chance points from those 24 offensive boards.
The loss, which is West Virginia’s second in a row, sends the Mountaineers to 15-3 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12. Texas earned its second win over a team in the top-ten so far this year and pushed its overall record to 12-6 and 4-2 in the Big 12.
With the log jam at the top of the Big 12 currently, protecting home court is absolutely vital to any team’s conference championship hopes, and West Virginia let an opportunity to separate itself slip with this loss. Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia and Kansas all now sit at 4-2 in conference play.
“We can still win the league, but obviously we’ve just made it much, much harder…Historically the teams that have won this league have won at home,” Huggins said.