AUSTIN, Texas – Here's a rundown with notes and highlights from the Texas Longhorns' 80-69 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers in front of 8,704 fans at the WVU Coliseum on Monday night.
Javan Felix had 19 points in the win over West Virginia Monday night.
How the Longhorns (13-4, 2-2) Won:
The Longhorns played perhaps the best half of basketball they've played all season over the first 30 minutes. In the first half alone Texas shot 50-percent from the floor and hit 8-of-10 at the foul line en route to building a 41-27 halftime lead. With the exception of some sloppy play late this team looked like the exact opposite of the club Rick Barnes said hasn't played well since it went on Christmas break.
How the Mountaineers (10-7, 2-2) Lost:
Everything West Virginia needed to do in order to beat Texas it was unable to get done. Namely the Mountaineers didn't get to the foul line early and didn't shoot the ball well from deep. By the time Bob Huggins' team pulled it together the outcome of the game had already been decided. The Mountaineers looked uninspired at times in the first half and Texas took advantage and was able to build a huge lead.
Goes to Javan Felix. When he's shooting the ball well and knocking them down at a good clip the Longhorns are significantly better offensively. Tonight, the sophomore guard scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting. It would be nice if Texas didn't have to depend on Felix to be a scorer, but that's the reality of the situation for this team. Performances like tonight will keep the Longhorns in a lot of games.
It Was Over When...
Texas ended the first half on an 18-5 run over the final 7:40. This game was a 23-23 contest when Prince Ibeh had a put-back dunk and was fouled. He hit the free throw to convert the three-point play and the Longhorns didn't look back. Lazy West Virginia defense and patience on offense led to uncontested dunks and easy second chance points while the guards got points in transition due to the ability to push the ball with little to no resistance.
To Cameron Ridley. The big man keeps building on one good performance after another. At this rate he's going to be in the mix for All-Big 12 honors at the end of the year. He had 12 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in the win. His confidence is unbelievably high right now and his impact on games is consistent.
To the last 3:55 of regulation. Felix made a hit a trey to put Texas up 20, 75-55 with 3:56 to go in the game. From that point West Virginia went on a 12-0 run, capped by a Juwan Staten layup with 1:24 to go. Thankfully the Longhorns kept the game from getting more interesting, but that stretch was really the only downer on the night.
Was how poorly West Virginia shot the ball from three-point range. The Mountaineers figured to give Texas trouble from deep, especially since they typically shoot it well while the Longhorns have been dismal defending the three-point line this season. The final line for West Virginia: 4-for-25 from beyond the arc.
Was the six minutes played by Damarcus Croaker. Maybe I'm making a mountain out a molehill, especially since Martez Walker is giving this team more than could ever have been expected at this point. But Croaker's offense is going to be needed at some point during Big 12 play, so seeing him get more floor time would be a good thing.
Stat(s) of the Night:
The win means Texas is off to its best start since the 2010-2011 season when it started 14-3... With a 49-30 rebounding edge, the Longhorns have now out-rebounded 14 of 17 opponents this season with eight of those performances having been double-digit margins, including tonight's plus-19 showing... the 16-percent three-point percentage by West Virginia is by far the lowest allowed by the Longhorns this season... Ridley's 12-12 performance was his fourth double-double of the season and matched his career high in rebounds... Jonathan Holmes' 12 rebounds were a season high... Felix scored in double figures for the 12th time in 17 games... Walker matched his season high in scoring (10 points) while Isaiah Taylor set a new season high with eight rebounds.
Story of the Night:
This is the kind of win Texas needed. Not to build confidence or to get back on the right track of playing good basketball. The Longhorns needed this win to keep pace to make the tournament, especially after dropping a home game against Oklahoma that could have easily gone in the win column. With Iowa State getting ready to come to town on Saturday, the team that we saw before the Michigan State loss is the one that needed to resurface in order for the Longhorns to compete night-in and night-out in the Big 12. Texas certainly looked more like that team on Monday night.
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