3 takeaways: West Virginia struggles defensively in loss to Texas

MORGANTOWN — Three takeaways from West Virginia’s 75-53 loss to Texas on Saturday night:

1. Roach trap

After sinking two deep 3s, Kerwin Roach went to the bench with two fouls at the 14:41 mark of the first half. But Texas coach Shaka Smart was compelled to reinsert his lead guard with 2:13 remaining. At that juncture, West Virginia was on a 10-1 run that trimmed the deficit to 29-28.

After Roach re-entered, the Longhorns scored six unanswered to close the half, and then they opened the second half on a 10-1 spurt.

That charge drained all the competitive spirit from West Virginia (10-14, 2-9), which surrendered eight second-half dunks and trailed by 29 at one juncture.

Roach finished with 14 points, two assists and three steals, and Texas was clearly better with him in the action. How much better? Try plus-32 with Roach on the court, the best plus-minus of any player.

Freshman guard Courtney Ramey can attest, having scored 13 of his season-high 19 points with Roach on the court.

2. Another beatdown

West Virginia doubled its field-goal output from five nights ago. Then again, going from nine to 18 isn’t exactly cause for a parade.

Derek Culver showed nifty interior passing with four assists, but the Mountaineers’ best offensive weapon of late finished 2-of-6 from the floor. Wes Harris shot 1-of-5. Lamont West finished 1-of-6. WVU made only 3-of-16 from 3-point range.

Shooting 35 percent overall while being out-rebounded 42-34 and forcing only eight turnovers wasn’t the right formula.

“It was embarrassing,” coach Bob Huggins said. “At least I’m embarrassed, but I don’t know if our guys are.”

3. Horns down gets UT’s attention

Sam Ehlinger wouldn’t have approved, but Smart seemed to appreciate the West Virginia student section featuring modified foam fingers that formed a horns-down.

“I noticed. I always notice that stuff,” Smart said. “The fans here, I think they do a great job of connecting as one identity, and part of that is getting on the other team. As a visiting player you have to relish that.”

Texas (14-10, 6-5) had dropped five straight road games before Saturday’s blowout, but is probably back on the good side of the NCAA bubble for now.

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