No. 14 West Virginia Returns to Form and Pummels Texas
Morgantown, WV – The fourteenth-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers (15-3, 4-2) scored a season-high 97 points in a 38-point beatdown over the Texas Longhorns (12-6, 2-4). The Mountaineers bullied their way to 52 points in the paint, outrebounded the Longhorns 53-25, and 27-second-chance points on 23 offensive rebounds, while four Mountaineers, Oscar Tshiebwe (13), Derek Culver (13), Jermaine Haley (12) and Jordan McCabe (10), all scored in double figures.
Haley scored the Mountaineers first bucket splitting two defenders on a reverse layup, then Culver drove the baseline for a reverse layup of his own before Emmitt Matthews Jr buried a three from the left wing to cap off an 8-0 run to give West Virginia an 8-2 advantage.
Texas started the game 3-4 from behind the arc to keep pace with the Mountaineers and got back within two after Jase Febres hit one from deep at the 12:39 mark of the first half.
Then, West Virginia went on a 26-2 run, and in a recent turn of events, it was all five starters with most of the production. Emmitt Mathews Jr, Tshiebwe, McCabe, Haley and Culver combined for 37 of the Mountaineers first-half points, while Gabe Osabuohien had seven of the eight bench points.
Defensively, they held Texas to 33.3% shooting from the field and without a three (0-8) in the final 12 minutes of the half. Subsequently, the Mountaineers held a 25-point advantage over the Longhorns.
“Nobody came in and really gave us a spark,” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. “I thought we had things going when (sophomore forward) Derek (Culver) and (freshman forward) Oscar (Tshiebwe) were playing well, and we were doing what we were supposed to do. I thought we did a great job of guarding their ball screens. That’s really good stuff. Shaka runs really good stuff, and we were fortunate enough to be able to take some things away from them. That kind of gets them out of their rhythm a little bit. It’s that kind of game. Some days you play really well, some days you don’t.”
West Virginia kept their foot on the throttle, and it was Haley picking up where he left off, receiving a pass underneath from Culver and laying it in.
The bench got into the act in the second half and the 33-point output was highlighted by Deuce McBride driving by his man at the right of the circle and slamming it home near the midway point of the final 20 minutes for two of his nine second-half points.
Also, Tshiebwe has made some plays during his short time in Morgantown, but the play he made with 8:46 left in the game was, quite frankly, incredible.
As the ball was rapidly rolling to the opposite end of the floor, in a blink an eye, Oscar chased down the ball, that I’m positive no other human could have tracked down, then dribbled down the baseline and threw it down. The roof nearly blew off the Coliseum.
That exemplified the game. The hustle, energy, and effort the Mountaineers lacked just two days ago in the 16-point drubbing to Kansas State.
“I knew we’re going to play. I knew we weren’t going to go through the motions like we went through the motions out there,” said Huggins. “We were quicker to the ball. We just did a better job. I think we set the tone with our defense. The ball went in a little for us, but I thought we set the tone with our defense. Which is what normally we do, and we didn’t out there. I mean, they kicked our butts out there.”
All 13 Mountaineers that got into the game scored as West Virginia cruised to the 97-59 win.
“For a one-day prep, I thought we did a really good job,” said Huggins. “Ronnie (Assistant coach Ron Everhart) did a good job with the scout. We pretty much, for the most part, did what we asked them to do. We didn’t let them play out of the middle of the floor. We kind of kept them on the side. Defensively, we did what we needed to do, and then we were able to get some easy baskets. We rebounded it much better than what we have rebounded it. It’s so mental. If you come in and you’re excited and you know you’re prepared and you know what you have to do, you’re so much more likely to have success. We didn’t get beaten to loose balls. We got beaten to every loose ball the other day. It’s not physical, obviously.”
Freshman walk-on Spencer Macke made his way onto the floor with over three minutes left in the game. Macke got his first bucket as a Mountaineer with 23 seconds left on a three, and naturally, the crowd erupted.
The Mountaineers are back in action on Saturday in hosting the Big12/SEC Challenge against the Missouri Tigers at noon on ESPN.