Texas-West Virginia Preview
West Virginia is looking to keep building after knocking off a pair of ranked teams.
Texas hasn’t defeated a Top 25 opponent since easily getting by the Mountaineers last month.
Looking to avenge that ugly loss in Austin, No. 20 West Virginia tries to add to the Longhorns’ recent woes Tuesday night.
The Mountaineers (21-6, 9-5 Big 12) had dropped three of four before last Monday’s 62-61 home win over No. 8 Kansas. Juwan Staten finished with 20 points after making the go-ahead layup with 4 seconds left, and he went on to score 22 in Saturday’s 73-63 victory at then-No. 22 Oklahoma State.
West Virginia is on the verge of its most wins since finishing 31-7 in 2009-10, when it advanced to the national semifinals.
"The confidence to beat Kansas and just play the way we played against them," said Staten, leading the team with 14.8 points per game. "We’re just trying to stay within ourselves, do what we’re supposed to do and just see what happens."
Senior Gary Browne added a career-high 18 points against the Cowboys as West Virginia matched a season high with 10 made 3-pointers on 20 attempts and held an 18-4 edge on the offensive glass.
The Mountaineers, sitting in fourth place in the conference, improved to 18-0 when allowing fewer than 71 points.
"We win because we play harder than everyone else," coach Bob Huggins told the school’s official website. "We don’t win because we shoot better or pass better or anything like that."
The Mountaineers weren’t anywhere near their best in falling 77-50 to then-No. 20 Texas on Jan. 17. They were limited to 24.1 percent from the floor for their lowest mark since shooting 20.0 percent against Cincinnati on Jan. 30, 2008.
Cameron Ridley led the Longhorns with 19 points and Jonathan Holmes and Myles Turner added 16 apiece as Texas outrebounded the Mountaineers 44-32.
"They’re big and they’re athletic, we have to do a much better job on the glass than we did last time," said Huggins, whose team has dropped four in a row in the series by an average of 18.0 points. "We just have to come out and play with great energy and great enthusiasm."
The Longhorns (17-10, 6-8) fell out of the rankings earlier this month, and they could miss the NCAA tournament for the second time in three seasons.
Texas has dropped its previous five matchups against Top 25 teams, including last Tuesday’s 71-69 loss at then-No. 17 Oklahoma and Saturday’s 85-77 defeat to then-No. 14 Iowa State.
"I know that everybody at this time of the year wants to talk about (March Madness)," coach Rick Barnes said. "I promise you, there are like 100 teams in the bubble. … If you’re going to get there, you’ve got to win. If we’re good enough we will, and we’re not, we won’t."
Kendal Yancy scored a career-high 29 points against the Cyclones while fellow sophomore Isaiah Taylor added a season best-tying 23, but it wasn’t enough as Texas surrendered its second-highest point total of the season.
"Right now we need some leadership, obviously, and it should come from our older guys," Barnes said. "Even when things aren’t going well, we’ve got to stick together."
Holmes, the only senior who sees significant playing time, has 12 points on 4-of-19 shooting in the last three games since missing two with a concussion.