KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 92 points West Virginia scored on Kansas led to some deep-dive film study at Texas, where Javan Felix and his teammates took the warning seriously.
“We just didn’t want to let it happen to us,” Felix said after the Longhorns won 66-49 by smothering West Virginia into its lowest output of the season.
Rick Barnes challenged his team to gang defend Juwan Staten and pester West Virginia’s 3-point shooters, but the coach had no inkling Texas would execute so well. The Mountaineers couldn’t make a dent in UT’s zone—and for much of the night couldn’t make a shot. They sank only 6-of-33 attempts in the opening half (18 percent) and trailed by an embarrassing 35-14 margin heading into intermission.
“In the first half I thought we were defensively really, really good … as good as we’ve been in a while,” Barnes said.
“The key to Staten was the transition, getting back. And we did—our big guys did a good job doing that. … And we’ve done the best job we’ve done all year the last two games getting our hands up in the zone. By doing that we’ve extended, too, based on the scouting report, who we needed to get out there.”
The league’s leading scorer concurred. Staten finished the game 1-of-11 for four points, more than 15 off his average.
“That Texas team has a lot of length, and it’s very hard to play against that, especially when their bigs are out on the wings and moving and active,” Staten said. “It takes away a lot of passing lanes and makes it hard to even see, let alone break it down.”
The league’s third-leading score concurred. Eron Harris finished with three points.
“They knew where our shooters were,” he said. “There was no type of gaps. I couldn’t get open.”
West Virginia finished nearly 30 points shy of its 78.5 points-per-game average, and despite sinking 5-of-7 shots late against the Texas reserves, that only raised the Mountaineers to a season-low 30 percent.