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.

WHERE’S WILLIAMS?
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.”

OSU HANGOVER
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.”

HARRIS FOUL TROUBLE
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.”

YOUNGER YET
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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Comments

  • Tim C

    We absolutely got destroyed last night. It seems if one player can't find the rim then no one can....I can't understand that, but that has been true of Mountie teams going way back. To give credit....Juwan played well, he deserves kudos for his play last night. Eron's game has disappeared....it's got to be mental cause he is one helluva player. Terry had a bad shooting night but he did hustle. Huggs says Devin had the flu, I believe it because he absolutely wasn't there last night. Brandon tried but he couldn't do anything with Texas's bigs. Noreen hustles but he just isn't athletic enough to compete in the middle.....Kevin I have a clue for you regarding rebounding. Put a body on someone as soon as the shot leaves the shooters hand....you are waiting until it hits the rim to block out....too late then. Adrian played in spurts but was largely absent and Dibo played like a high schooler last night. Gary acted as if he didn't know where to go from time to time. I was watching our offense and several guys looked like they didn't know where to go or what to do on several occasions. GUYS.....you can be a very good team, but you prefer to mail it in sometimes. I'm glad you fought to the end last night but the game is 40 minutes....not the last 5.

  • WVU82MD

    Seriously guys....its WVU....not Duke, NC, Syracuse, Kansas, etc... We don't have the clout to recruit four top shelf players a year with two having NBA talent. We only have eight or nine kids on scholarship. These kids are so young and talented that I see one of the best groups in years. Ball skills, and court presence are abounding....but immaturity trumps that talent. Hang tight....this is a great group....there have been flashes of brilliance this year. However, they are often followed by moments of utter confusion. Bob is a pain in the a.., but I would have my kid play for him....he expects and demands accountability.

  • Charles

    No football coach, no basketball coach. The football tem has no fight in it and neither does the basketball team. It's not hard for a visiting football team to win at Mountaineer Field and it's not hard for a visiting basketball team to win in The Coliseum. We need new head coaches in both sports. I think Huggs act has worn thin. Look at how into his post-game press conferences he is. Acts as if he doesn't care that they've lost again.

  • nashville cat

    huggins gets 3 million per yr thru 2022-23 season if he coaches,

    at 2018-19 he can assume a 5 yr appt. with base salary of 50 grand,in public relations,, who knows how much the mac will pay him,,,,, or he can remain the head coach..
    so,,,looks like 8 more yrs, of very subperformance of our BB program,,,, \
    Let's all give Oliver Luck a big hug for taking care of his buddy,,

  • pghmountaineer

    I think I'm like the majority of folks who read these columns and post remarks. I deeply care about the image and success of our school and its athletic programs. I also think I'm in the majority when I say it's difficult to root for our major sports programs knowing full well their direction is not trending upward. It doesn't appear that things will get better anytime soon. We are digging a hole that could take many years to just get these programs back to respectability.
    Just goes to show when you have incompetant people at the helm how fast things can deteriorate, and how long it will be to rightthe ship.
    The attendance is already proving the point.

  • dan

    you don't have to worry he will never ever be fired ever. got it

    • Bobby

      huggins doesn't need to be fired. the one that should go is luck. this team will be better by year end, just not at the top better. your either a mountaineer fan or your not. not just when they are winning.

  • Captain Obvious

    The best thing you can say about this team is that they are better than last year's embarrassment. They'll be fine next year but somebody (initials B.H.) was asleep at the switch for a couple years.

    How about Huggs refunding 50% of that salary to charity so you can't be charged with stealing?

  • Doug M

    Once again WVU is finding excuses for losing. The loss on Saturday to OK State is just that a loss get over it and move on it didn't stress them out or the "hangover effect" young men playing BB should be able to play to two HOME GAMES in three days. Typical!!

  • WVUGrad08

    Is it any wonder why big time recruits and coaches refuse to come to WVU? Look at all the negativity on your posts! After serving in the military and educating myself (at WVU), I will never give up on my home state or the sports teams! NEVER!!! Our glory days will come. When they do, I will honestly be one of the very few that say I was there through "thick and thin" to see it all happen. By the way, I'm over 40 so I've seen good and bad! I've never given up hope on my state or the Mountaineers! Nor will I. If you feel different, turn in your "badge of honor" now and STFU!!! "Judge not lest ye also be judged."

    • nashville cat

      so , in order to be a true eer fan, i must accept mediocrity, and i must drink the kool-aid and accept what is going on, and not voice my opinion,,,,,,sounds something like old russia