AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Javan Felix scored 18 points and No. 19 Texas used another impressive offensive performance to beat West Virginia 88-71 on Saturday night, a victory that kept the Longhorns within a game of the Big 12 lead.
Texas (20-5, 9-3) put five players in double figures and shot better than 60 percent for most of the game.
Cameron Ridley scored 17 points and was a force on defense with three of Texas’ five blocks, including two in the final minute of the first half. Jonathan Holmes, the Longhorns’ leading scorer, had 11 in his return after missing a game with a knee injury.
Eron Harris scored 21 points for West Virginia (15-11, 7-6), which had surged up the league standings by winning four of five.
Texas also reached 20 wins for the 14th time in 16 seasons under coach Rick Barnes. This might have been the most significant, though, considering the Longhorns’ dramatic turnaround from last season’s 16-18 finish that left Texas out of the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years.
And by beating West Virginia, the Longhorns stayed just a game behind conference leader Kansas, with games against Iowa State and the Jayhawks next week.
Texas shot 61 percent in the first half, and Felix and Holmes both had 10 points by halftime. Texas’ final shooting mark of 58 percent was just below the school record of 59 percent for a Big 12 game.
But even with those offensive fireworks, Texas controlled the game early behind a defense that created steals on the perimeter and all but locked down the lane behind Ridley’s big body.
Demarcus Holland, who blew a layup off a turnover in the opening seconds, converted two layups off steals in a 17-2 Texas run that put the Longhorns up 28-16 when Felix made his first 3-pointers.
West Virginia fought to stay within 10, but Ridley’s two blocks in the final 30 seconds sent the Longhorns into the break leading by 11.
Harris scored 12 in the half and Terry Henderson had 10 for the Mountaineers to keep the game from turning into a rout early.
West Virginia showed a hint of a rally when the Mountaineers scored five straight points to start the second half. A 3-pointer by Harris trimmed the Texas lead to six before the Longhorns responded with an 8-0 run.
Felix made another 3-pointer and Prince Ibeh had two dunks, both coming on quick catch-and-jumps that left his defender flat-footed, to put the Longhorns ahead 61-46 with 12:14 to play.