WVU Falls At Texas, Drops to 0-2 in Big 12
With the loss, WVU fell to 8-6 overall and 0-2 in Big 12 Conference play. It’s the first time West Virginia has started conference play with two straight losses since the 2010-11 season when the Mountaineers were still in the Big East.
Meanwhile with the win Texas improved to 10-4 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12.
UT held the lead throughout much of the game, and was on top by as many as eight in the second half, but West Virginia kept battling back.
The key moment came in the final two minutes. The Mountaineers trailed by just two, 56-54, after an Esa Ahmad layup with 1:38 left in the game. Back on the other end, WVU stayed in a 2-3 zone that it had employed for much of the second half – probably the longest stretch in a 2-3 during the Bob Huggins era. Texas was struggling to get a good look, but with the shot clock winding down, UT guard Matt Coleman made a move and stepped back behind the three-point arc and launched up tough shot over West Virginia’s Wes Harris. The degree of difficulty was high, but the rainbow found the bottom of the net. That three-pointer proved to be the dagger, as the Mountaineers didn’t have another comeback left in them.
“The guy makes a great shot in the corner,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins on the MSN postgame. “That’s a big time shot.”
That three gave Coleman a team-high 17 points. West Virginia got 17 from freshman center Derek Culver, who also had nine rebounds. Beetle Bolden added 13 points for WVU, all of them in the second half, while Esa Ahmad scored 10.
“I’m proud of Derek because his attitude has been so good and that was the problem before,” Huggins explained of the 6-foot-10 youngster who is playing in just his fourth college game after being suspended the first half of the season. “Derek was all the time trying to do things he wasn’t supposed to do, to cut things. I hope he doesn’t slide back. He’s a force. He’s a big, strong guy. He’s probably the best rebounder we’ve had in my 12 years (as WVU’s head coach).”
Texas jumped out front early the game and led throughout most of the first half. WVU didn’t let the Longhorns get too far ahead, though the home team took a 32-26 lead into the lockerroom at halftime, equaling its largest advantage in the opening 20 minutes. The freshmen duo of Culver and Jordan McCabe combined for 15 of West Virginia’s 26 points.
Another Mountaineer freshman, Brandon Knapper, was not available, as the South Charleston (W.Va.) High grad didn’t make the trip to Austin, as he was suspended for an undisclosed reason. Instead freshman walk-on Taevon Horton, who is a native of Fairmont, W.Va., got the first start of his career.
The Mountaineers will be back on the road for their next game, as they visit Kansas State (10-4/0-2) Wednesday in a contest that starts at 7 p.m. (Eastern).