MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Coach Rick Barnes knows his team as soundly as anyone, yet he may have been the most surprised person in the Coliseum after Texas bullied West Virginia 80-69 on Monday night.

Bolstered by forceful rebounding and season-high 52-percent shooting, the Longhorns asserted themselves before intermission and raced to a three-touchdown lead in the second half. Only a late surge made the final score respectable for the Mountaineers, who won both meetings last season and were 4-point favorites this time around.

BOXSCORE: Texas 80, West Virginia 69

After Texas narrowly defeated Texas Tech at home Saturday, did Barnes foresee his squad transforming into world-beaters on the cross-country flight to Morgantown?

“No, no. Absolutely not,” he said.

Yet from a 23-all deadlock at the 6:17 mark of the first half, Texas tore the game open with an 18-4 run that included six dunks or layups. Four of those point-blank buckets came after WVU’s newly initiated rim protector Brandon Watkins (five blocks in 14 minutes) sat with his third foul.

West Virginia simultaneously dipped into a 1-of-10 shooting funk that led to a 41-27 halftime hole.

“We really felt those last eight minutes of the first half were the best we played all year,” Barnes said. “We were really good.”

MORE: Staten’s 23 points can’t keep WVU close

And Texas (13-4, 2-2) was really good on the other side of halftime also, returning with a 7-2 run highlighted by two Javan Felix jumpers. The stocky guard poured in 13 of his 19 points during the second half, including a fast-break lay-in that staked Texas to its biggest cushion at 70-49.

That became the cue for most of the 8,706 fans to bolt, caring little that West Virginia (10-7, 2-2) had erased a 13-point second-half deficit in Austin last season. Of larger consequence was the more recent trend: WVU heading to its fourth consecutive loss inside the Coliseum.

Behind Jonathan Holmes and the beefy Cameron Ridley grabbing 12 boards each, Texas owned the final rebounding edge 49-30. Ridley’s series of putbacks led to 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

“Me and John, we really focused on crashing the glass as hard as we can,” said the 285-pound sophomore Ridley, recalling how irked Barnes became after UT was out-rebounded in two of its previous three games.

Devin Williams, heretofore West Virginia’s best rebounder, played 16 minutes to produce no rebounds and only two points. From double-double threat to darn near double aught.

“Devin had a little bit of the flu or a lot of the flu, I don’t know,” said coach Bob Huggins. “When he’s not very good, then we’re not very good in there.”

With Ridley hungrier and heavier in the pursuit of rebounds, Huggins said his interior players “got out-manned,” explaining WVU’s largest rebounding deficit of the season.

“I got Nate Adrian at about 215 pounds. I got Remi (Dibo) who’s 210. I got Brandon (Watkins) who’s a stick. And they’re not pogo-stick guys that really jump either. We needed a big body and Devin’s the only big body we have.”

Expressing what WVU refused to, Barnes suspected the 73-72 loss to then-No. 11 Oklahoma State continued to hound the Mountaineers.

“It’s a tough one when you’ve got a chance to beat a team that’s ranked as high as Oklahoma State was and let it get away at the end,” he said.

WVU guard Eron Harris discredited the notion of a carryover from the quick-turn schedule: “No excuses—everybody’s got to play games like that.”

One writer questioned whether Harris committed a “silly” second foul in trying to block a shot by Martez Walker with 11:11 left. The call sent Harris to the bench for the next nine minutes, when Texas pulled out to a double-digit lead.

“I didn’t think that was a foul,” Huggins said. “I thought that was a good block. Those used to be good blocks. I wouldn’t tell him not to try to make that play.”

With four freshmen and five sophomores in its 10-man rotation, Texas is one of the youngest and most stunning stories at the season’s midpoint. On the heels of last year’s losing record, Barnes has retooled the roster, and complimented Huggins on taking a similar approach.

“We’re both kind of doing the same thing,” he said, “trying to get our programs back with the kind of guys we feel good about.”

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  • Barrett

    Maybe four more conference wins this's not a brutal schedule, its a conference schedule!! Thats the way it should be. There is no pressure on Huggins to be good anymore. If he was from Salisaw, Oklahoma people would ride him out of town. Hes a native son and he gets a free pass until hes ready to leave. I like the guy but geez.

    • madhatter

      huggins has lost his edge to win, he no longer works the game like he used to, he almost made it to the top of the hill, and now he simply doesn';t care,, money over pride

      • shawn

        Thats a dumb comment. I'm sorry but it is. He cares more about this state than 3/4 of the population. He hates losing because he feels like the state is let down. Lets just get real, you're not going to get a Wiggins, Parker ect. to come to WVU.

        He took that final four team and polished those kids into big time players. They werent the most talented kids but they played within the system and they played to win. He's got a team like that now but it takes time to polish these kids.

    • shawn

      He's got talented kids but they are young. It takes 2 season for a kid to understand his system. Ask Staten and Henderson. If you cant see improvement in those guys then you're blind.

      • Barrett

        Typical fan of a bad program. "we're young, wait till next year. I'm right there with ya buddy! I don't drink the kool aid every year though. Your good or your not. Last time I checked theres not a column for moral victories.

        • shawn

          Yea moral victories are nothing! I agree with that. But this team is young and we only have 9 right now. Things happen and we'll be up to 12-13 players next year. Depth helps down the stretch. Huggs did in fact say he would fix it, and he's on the right track to do so.

  • William

    Look at the average Home Coliseum Attendance under "Sweatsuit Huggins" -

    2010 -12,377
    2011 -11,469
    2012 - 9,930
    2013 - 8,752
    2014 - 6,970

    I guess all the players that LEFT the team aren't the only ones leaving!

    Huggins has done a terrible job at WVU!

  • William

    WVU can only beat cup-cake non conf. teams
    Its so sad to be Mountaineer fan no matter were you may be.
    When you have to schedule terrible teams just so you can pad the win column
    When will WVU beat a good team?
    Its been over 2 years
    "Sweatsuit" Huggins is washed up!

  • Anthony

    Wow, William. Think you need a new hobby. You're having comment convo's with yourself!

  • William

    WVU fans tell me why "Sweatsuit" Huggins is a great coach?
    Is it because of any of these things?
    1. He yells & scream at his players all the time.
    2. He yanks his players out of the game for one mistake.
    3. He whines & cries to the refs all game long.
    4. His language he uses on court.
    5. He puts on a show on the court, because he loves the attention.
    6. He recruits some players that have a lot of baggage, and some of these guys should NEVER wear a WVU jersey.
    7. He throw his players under the bus all the time, just listen to his after game radio show.
    8. He has over 700 wins, and 550 are against cupcake terrible teams!
    9. Is it because of what he said to the referee last year that he should have been FIRED for
    10. Is it because he make an OUTRAGOUS salary of $10,000.00 dollars a day, 7 days a week for a part time job!
    11. Is it because of why he did at the Nike Clinic last year at Robert Morris.
    12. Is it because of how many players had to leave the team or he got rid of
    13. Is he a good recruiter


    • Tom

      More than once you have made a reference to something Huggins said to a referee last year, without mentioning what it was. Are you the only one who knows about this?

  • William

    Look at how many empty seats in the lower section for all of WVU home games!
    How sad is it when many people would love to go to the games and sit in those seats that are EMPTY ever home game

    • Rock Solid

      @ William: Nobody is going to the games because of the below average product WVU is putting on the floor. Not the kids fault, but when you have no inside game, no depth to help coming off the bench, then the kids play their hearts out trying to beat the 11th ranked team on Saturday, our guys just didn't have any legs left. That's why all our shots were off the front rim. NO LEGS equals short shots. No bench is just killing our players. They will keep trying, but don't expect attendence to improve, there are affordable seats just NO interest to see an outmatched team lose over and over again.

      • Rock Solid

        @ metronews: Once again the amateurs at Metronews can't recognize a thoughtful reply to a comment and place it on "awaiting moderation" status. I wish somone with an IQ above stump water would let me know what triggers "awaiting moderation"? Use my reply to William and tell me what is wrong! What estrogen levels are you all carrying that has turned all of you into sissy boys?

    • wvrefugee

      That's because Luck sold those to the so-called "big donors" who never come to games and seldom give their tickets to anyone. My observations from last night.....the sections behind the goals, where the new folks got tickets, were virtually full. Huggins complains about the crowds????? Go ask your Ad!

  • William

    Does "Sweatsuit" Huggins ever stop whining, crying, and yelling at the referee?
    What a big failure Huggins has been at WVU!
    And yes - I'M LOVIN' IT

  • William

    This is "Sweatsuits" 7th year as head coach at WVU, and this is the best team he can put on the court!
    What a big failure Huggins is
    It is a very sad time to be a Mountaineer fan wherever you may be!

  • Hailey

    Pitiful effort , not one good thing to say about last night. When was the last time we beat a team with a pulse?