KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As a string of reporters inquired about his recently injured knee, Texas forward Jonathan Holmes pronounced himself healthy, agile and sound. His bigger pain? Questions about the Longhorns’ mindset entering the Big 12 tournament.

Equipped with a 22-9 record, a No. 34 RPI and a coach no longer on the hotseat, Texas has done enough to secure an NCAA tournament bid regardless of how it performs at the Sprint Center. But Thursday night’s quarterfinal opponent, West Virginia (17-14), is viewed as a talented and desperate team that carries more incentive and fire, especially after losing to Texas twice during the regular season.

The circumstances seem ideal for a Longhorns lull.

“We’re not just coming out here like it’s a practice game and knowing that we’re in the NCAA tournament,” Holmes said. “We’re playing for something too—we’re playing for a Big 12 championship.”

Averaging 12.9 points per game, the 6-foot-8 Holmes fronts a balanced lineup that has waylaid West Virginia 80-69 in Morgantown and 88-71 in Austin. His dangerous 3-point range thrives in late-game situations, as evidenced by his OT-forcing jumper against WVU last season and his buzzer-beater that upset K-State two months ago.

He’s also one of the top rebounders on one of the league’s best rebounding teams, an advantage Texas exploited mightily against the Mountaineers. But since their last meeting, Texas has lost four of six, including a 59-53 upset in Lubbock that served as the only win for Texas Tech since Feb. 12.

The slump has been marked by teams sagging into the lane and daring the Longhorns’ outside shooters to make 3s. (Texas is next-to-last in the Big 12 by making 32 percent of its 3-point tries.) Guard Javan Felix, whose stellar games against WVU far surpass his season averages, has only 12 points in his last three games combined while shooting 5-for-26.

Asked how opponents should scout the Texas shooters these days, Felix joked, “Back up off of ‘em.”

Will West Virginia’s defense follow suit and pack the lane as other UT opponents have done? Coach Bob Huggins hinted this week that WVU required some strategic changes after giving up an average of 84 points to Texas this season.

We’ll see if those changes give the Mountaineers a fighting chance the third time around, and if Texas—with its NCAA ticket punched—will show the same amount of fight.

BIG 12 QUARTERFINALS

Who: No. 3 seed Texas (22-9) vs. No. 6 West Virginia (17-14)

Tipoff: Thursday, 9:30 p.m. Eastern in Kansas City
Line: Texas favored by 3
Pick: West Virginia 73-71
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Comments

  • pghmountaineer

    looks like another one and done in the Big 12 tourney.

  • Huge Fan

    Thanks LG, don't get ESPN 3 thru Dish according to the knuckle headIi talked with. I was able to get it for purchasing channel 432 for $11.00 per month and $5.00 to cancel after 30 days. Worth the price if we go deep in tournament.

  • Leroy j Gibbs

    It's on espn3

  • Huge Fan

    Thanks, I will listen to the boys on the radio tell me how the EER's take down the horns and move onto the next round.

  • Leroy j Gibbs

    It's Texas. They don't want West Virginians to see them

  • Huge Fan

    Anyone know what channel game is on? I have Dish Network and cant find the game listed for later tonight or any of the other Big 12 games being played earlier.

    • Alex

      Game is on Channel 30 CW in Charleston area DirecTV Channel 640 .

  • Aaron S.

    I'm sorry Allan but I don't share your optimism. I think WVU once again gets manhandled inside, loses this game and heads off to the NIT.

    Texas 81 WVU 74

  • Leroy j Gibbs

    Seriously can't find it on c larksburg cable

    • Jeremy

      wdtv channel 5 said they are carrying it in the Bridgeport/Clarksburg area

  • Truthteller

    If the pattern holds true the refs will make sure Texas wins this game. WVU will have to over come the bias refs and shoot lights out to even have a chance. Its the same thing every year get WVU out as fast as you can. WVU should make a deep run in the NIT once they get away from the paid off refs of the Big 12. Good luck Mountaineers but the game has all ready been decided. They even showed the teams going to the dance and WVU was not one of them. They all ready know whos going and who is not.
    Money corrupts everything even sports!!!

    • ur wrong

      What a cry baby! If WVU loses we must have been cheated. Bet it is the story of your miserable life.

  • Big Larry

    Any time WVU scores more than 70 points and holds the other team below 70 points they almost always win.

  • leroy j gibbs

    what channel is it on?

  • richard

    i would mix up some 1-3-1 with some other defense to confuse them. dont wait till the end of the game to try the 1-3-1. confuse them at the beginning, get a lead then play full out defense. maybe some full court at the beginning too. we need to get a lead and not fall behind early. also, it would help if we can hit on all cylinders. just cant have staten and harris hitting. or harris and henderson, we play much better when the whole team is involved (makes since to me,lol). but those true fans know what i mean. if we can put it all together----WVU by 8 to 10 points.

  • Mike

    If Texas is going to make it a sweep, they better do it now, 'cause next year nobody is going to push around the Mountaineers.

    • Billy

      Texas has no seniors on their team this year.

  • Dave

    We can do this.

    LET'S GOOOOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS !!!!!!!!

  • Aaron

    terrible match up for us,, but if we make shots, well, more shots than they do, well , if we score one more point , we win,,, how's that for an obvious ,observation.

    • Aaron S.

      I'm curious mad-hatter, or is it Barry? Either way, why do you feel the need to hijack others monikers and make foolish comments?

      The desperate need for attention cries out regardless of whether you use one of your trade mark monikers or whether you steal someone else's.

      How sad your life must be.

      • GoEers

        That's what those guys do Aaron. They're jealous Marshall trolls.