Texas Basketball: Longhorns Roll To Third-Straight Win
With their backs to the wall, Texas basketball appears to have come to life.
The Longhorns (17-11, 7-8) picked up their third-straight win, this time over No. 20 West Virginia (19-9, 7-8). The 67-57 win over the Mountaineers keeps Texas' tournament hopes alive and move it within one game of .500 in Big 12 play.
"We're at a point of this season where if we had lost any of these last three games, our postseason dreams would have been shattered," freshman Brock Cunningham said.
"Our guys really exemplify Texas fight," Smart said. "We haven't talked to the guys about the negative stuff people say about us. ... What you are seeing the last few games is the back against the wall and still fighting."
The win comes over the same West Virginia team that embarrassed the Longhorns earlier this season in Morgantown, handing them a 38-point defeat.
With Jericho Sims still out and Matt Coleman slowed by a heel injury, it was the duo of Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey that led the way for Texas on the scoring side. Jones had 22 while Ramey scored 21.
"Over the last couple of games, me and Courtney have just felt a chemistry. It's beginning to click," Jones said. "With guys out, it's forcing me to step up. When two players are in sync, you can do great things and lead a team to victory."
Jones and company were particularly effective shooting in the first half, hitting 62% of their shots to take a 34-28 advantage into the locker room for halftime.
West Virginia's Oscar Tshiebwe cut the Longhorn lead to 46-41 with a layup, but Jones hit a three-pointer just a few seconds later to make the lead eight. The Mountaineers would never get within two possessions again.
The win is Texas' first over a ranked opponent this season and easily the most impressive on the Longhorns' tournament resume.
The Longhorns still have little room for error, most likely needing at least two wins in their final three games to put themselves into position to make the Big Dance.
That run continues on Saturday with a tough road trip to Lubbock to take on No. 22 Texas Tech at 11 a.m.