The Dominion Post  

Longhorns shock WVU men’s hoops

Created on:   Sat, Mar 3, 2018   8:33 PM

Last modified:   Sat, Mar 3, 2018   8:32 PM

For The Dominion Post

AUSTIN, Texas – The WVU men’s basketball team may pick up the intensity in its practices after a surprising loss in the Big 12 regular season finale at Texas, on March 3.

“We’re going to try to fix some things,” Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins said, after WVU’s 87-79 overtime loss to the Longhorns, before 11,364 fans, at the Frank Erwin Center. “I have backed off this team in practice more than any team I’ve ever coached, and it’s probably been a terrible mistake.”

The No. 20 Mountaineers (22-9, 11-7 Big 12) dropped to the No. 3 seed for the Big 12 tournament and will play sixth-seeded Baylor, at 9 p.m. Thursday, in Kansas City.

Texas Tech earned the No. 2 seed with its 79-75 victory against TCU, on Saturday. The Red Raiders owned the tiebreaker over WVU via their regular-season win against Kansas.

Despite trailing by as much as seven in the second half, WVU came back on a strong second half from Esa Ahmad.

The Mountaineers and Longhorns were pretty even from the field through regulation. West Virginia’s Jevon Carter sent the game into overtime at 72-72 with a layup (with 1.6 seconds remaining).

Texas outshot the Mountaineers, 80 percent to 23.1 percent in the extra session, proving to be the difference in the outcome.

Huggins was frustrated with the loss to the Longhorns (18-13, 8-10), who entered the game sitting solidly on the NCAA tournament bubble.

“I wish we had made a shot, I wish we guarded somebody,” Huggins said. “I wish we tried to get a rebound.”

The Mountaineers were out rebounded, 37-32, including 29-18 on the defensive glass.

The loss was surprising considering two factors:

An 86-51 Mountaineer victory over Texas on Jan. 20, at the WVU Coliseum.

The absence of Texas forward Mohamed Bamba, who missed Saturday’s game due to a toe injury. WVU won the rebounding battle, 45-31, on Jan. 20.

Texas’ Matt Coleman and Kerwin Roach II each scored a game-high 22 points (career highs for both of them) after having combining for just 13 points total in the first meeting.

Texas’ Jericho Sims scored a career-high 17 points on Saturday, after having just seven points on Jan. 20. Those 17 points included several momentum-changing second half dunks.

“He’s gotten a lot better. He’s pretty aggressive trying to score,” Huggins said.

West Virginia had five players in double figures, led by Lamont West’s 15 points.

Carter and Sagaba Konate scored 12 and 14 points, respectively, while Ahmad and James Bolden scored 10 points each.

Texas snapped WVU’s four-game winning streak in the series, which the Longhorns now lead, 9-8. The Longhorns, who have now won four straight Big 12 home games against AP Top 25 teams, managed to overcome 14 turnovers (to WVU’s six) to win the game.

The Mountaineers dropped to 2-4 all-time in Austin, and the teams are now 1-1 against each in overtime games.

Huggins said he doesn’t care if the Mountaineers and Longhorns have a rubber match in Kansas City this week.

“I don’t really care who we see – everybody’s good,” Huggins said.