Plenty on the line for No. 20 West Virginia at Texas (Mar 02, 2018)
There will be plenty on the line when No. 20 West Virginia travels to Texas to square off Saturday afternoon in a Big 12 Conference game at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, in the teams' regular-season finale.
For the Mountaineers, the game is important for seeding in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament and in the NCAA Tournament that begins March 14.
West Virginia (26-8, 11-6 Big 12) would also like to keep the momentum it gained from a three-game win streak that has propelled it past Texas Tech and into second place in the conference standings.
Most recently, West Virginia beat Texas Tech 84-74 after scoring the first 16 points, built as much as a 20-point lead and never looked back. On Senior Night in Morgantown, seniors Jevon Carter scored a team-high 21 points and Dexter Miles added 18 as the Mountaineers made another statement for the postseason.
West Virginia has had an up-and-down Big 12 campaign, but coach Bob Huggins said the balance of the conference, and not the work of his team, has had the biggest hand in that situation.
"Tell me who hasn't been up and down?" Huggins said. "That's the nature of our game. That's the nature of league. Everyone has highs and lows.
"When you go through what a lot of us went through this year with injuries, with the flu -- with us, it's travel -- there's so many factors that you're not going to have a perfect year.
"Someone's going to come out and play really, really well on a night you don't play well, even if you're the best team in the country."
As big as this game is for West Virginia, it's even more crucial to Texas. The Longhorns (17-13, 7-10) are fighting to get into the NCAA Tournament and many believe that a win over the Mountaineers would give them a final signature victory that was needed because of the overall strength of the conference.
Texas does have the home court and a history of success in big games on its side. The Longhorns have three consecutive home Big 12 wins against AP top 20 opponents entering Saturday's game. Texas has defeated No. 16 TCU, No. 8 Texas Tech and No. 12 Oklahoma.
The Longhorns' last outing was an 80-70 loss at Kansas in which Texas played without injured forward Mohamed Bamba and suspended guard Eric Davis Jr. as school compliance officials continue to investigate an alleged report that Davis took $1,500 from an agent.
Kerwin Roach II led five Texas players in double-figure scoring with 18 points and eight assists in the loss and said afterward that he and his teammates would be loose and ready to go for West Virginia.
"We are just go out there and play basketball," Roach II said. "That's all it is at the end of the day. West Virginia, they're an up-and-down team. You want to get up-and-down. So it's going to be a good game. They're going to play with their hair down, and we're going to have almost a week to prepare for it, rest and get our minds right."
The series between Texas and West Virginia is tied 8-8, with the Mountaineers laying an 86-51 shellacking on the Longhorns in the first meeting of the year on Jan. 20 in Morgantown.