OK, we have to pose the question. How could the West Virginia team that showed up to play Texas Thursday night in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas have beaten conference champion Kansas last Saturday?
There was absolutely no comparison. Texas had an easy time punching its ticket to Friday night’s semifinal round by demolishing an outmanned, outgunned and totally outplayed West Virginia, defeating the Mountaineers 66-49 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close.
The stampede for the third-seeded Longhorns began from the get-go. Jonathan Holmes and Juvan Felix combined for Texas’ first 12 points of the game as the Longhorns quickly jumped out to a 12-0 start to the game. And it only got worse from there. There was just under 4:30 to go in the first half when West Virginia reached double figures in point. By then, the Longhorns had built a 29-10 advantage.
You know it’s not your night when your top two scorers, West Virginia’s Juwan Staten and Eron Harris, who rank one and four in the conference, both averaging 18 points a game, combine for just seven points in the game. This was the first game this season that neither Staten nor Harris scored in double figures. The Mountaineers ended the game shooting just over 30 percent, a season low, but for much of the game their shooting percentage from the floor was closer to 20 percent.
Brandon Watkins came off the bench to score a team-high 10 points for the Mountaineers. No other player from West Virginia reached double digits. The sixth-seeded Mountaineers scored 25 of their 49 total points in the final eight minutes of the game. The 49 points was Wes Virginia’s lowest point total of the season. The previous low was 56 in a loss at Kansas State in January.
Holmes and Felix led the Longhorns in scoring with 20 and 16 points, respectively. Freshman guard Isaiah Taylor, who has had such a hot hand for Texas lately, had an off night, finishing with just four points. Texas shot 49 percent from the field for the game.
Texas next faces seventh-seeded Baylor, which upset Oklahoma, in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday evening. The Longhorns have now reached the semifinals of the tournament an incredible 13 times in the 18-year history of the Big 12.
The loss probably ends West Virginia’s chance of becoming the eighth team from the Big 12 to participate in the next week’s NCAA Tournament. The Mounbtaineers most likely are headed to the National Invitation Tournament, which was won by Baylor a year ago.