MORGANTOWN — No disrespect toward Sagaba Konate’s six blocks or any of the 15 turnovers the No. 6 WVU men’s basketball team forced in Saturday’s 86-51 victory against Texas.
The best defense of the day was a security officer playing man-on-man with WVU coach Bob Huggins, as Huggins tried to get into the WVU Coliseum.
“I go to come in the door and the guy opens the door for me and tells me I can’t come in this way,” Huggins said. “I said, ‘I come in this way every game.’ ”
The officer didn’t recognize the veteran coach, who was already going through some rough times after the Mountaineers had lost two straight to Texas Tech and Kansas after giving up double-digit leads in the second half.
“Then I tried to get Shane [Lyons, WVU athletic director] on the phone,” Huggins continued. “I’m thinking maybe I got fired and didn’t know it. That’s happened to me before.”
No worries. Huggins eventually got in.
And his Mountaineers? They eventually learned how to keep the throttle down in the second half, too.
Jevon Carter scored 22 points and Konate added his fifth double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Mountaineers (16-3, 5-2 Big 12) to their largest margin of victory against a Big 12 opponent, in front of a sell-out crowd of 14,001.
“We just tried to keep going,” Carter said. “Sometimes when we get leads, we get out of our offense and we start taking quick shots and that’s when teams come down in transition and get buckets.”
Outside of the first five minutes of the second half, in which the Longhorns (12-7, 3-4) got as close as 41-33, there were no easy transition baskets and no offensive runs for Texas.
“We felt like we were in a good position the whole time,” said WVU forward Esa Ahmad, who added eight points and seven rebounds. “We kind of felt like our intensity was much better than it was the last two games. We came out with the same intensity in the second half that we had in the first half, which was real big for us.”
A lob from Carter to teammate Wes Harris got things going and then Carter nailed a jump shot and for the next 10 minutes, WVU literally did not miss.
The Mountaineers made 10 consecutive shots at one point in the second half, while holding the Longhorns to just 34 percent (17 of 50) shooting for the game.
Texas also went an eight-minute stretch in the first half without a point, as WVU ran out to a 32-22 halftime lead.
“We didn’t get what we wanted to execute nearly crisply enough, or at all, and that led to a real drought,” said Texas head coach Shaka Smart, who was handed the biggest loss of his nine-year coaching career. “We were nowhere near as aggressive or tough and mean as we needed to be in the second half.”
Huggins, too, had questioned his team’s toughness after those two setbacks.
WVU responded in a number of ways against the Longhorns; from shooting a perfect 12 of 12 from the foul line to grabbing 14 offensive rebounds and turning that into a 21-6 advantage on second-chance points.
WVU also out-rebounded Texas, 45-29.
“We got second-chance scoring opportunities,” Huggins said. “We were able to turn them over a little bit. We made some shots. We actually tried to run the offense we were supposed to run, and not whoever gets it, shoots it.”
That turned into a game in which many contributed.
James “Beetle” Bolden pulled his groin late in the first half, but gutted it out in the second half. He finished with 19 points, while Daxter Miles Jr. added 15 points.
WVU also went 12 of 23 from 3-point range, its most 3-pointers this season in Big 12 play.