For the second straight week, it was a tale of two games for Texas. A gritty home victory over a ranked opponent led to a bad loss on the road.
A week prior, after defeating then-No. 16 TCU at home, the Longhorns forfeited a double-digit lead down the stretch against Oklahoma State and lost.
But on Saturday there was no advantage to surrender.
The Longhorns never led in the second half, and an ice-cold performance ended in a 86-51 blowout at the hands of No. 6 West Virginia. An angry Mountaineers team entered Saturday coming off of back-to-back conference losses. The win, its fourth in a row over Texas, helped West Virginia maintain sole possession of the second seed in the Big 12.
“West Virginia’s spirit and energy and toughness was as good as I’ve seen it,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “We stood up to that for about 12-14 minutes, but we didn’t close out the (first) half strong.
“And in the second half we were trading baskets a little bit. We got the lead down to single digits. But nowhere near the level of mental toughness and togetherness we need to have — especially on the road.”
Texas started the game like a well-oiled machine, demonstrating the same sharpness displayed during Wednesday’s win over No. 8 Texas Tech.
Freshman forward Mo Bamba collected three blocks and added four quick points in the opening five minutes as the Longhorns jumped out to an early 8-4 lead.
But West Virginia’s press began to give Texas fits. The Longhorns coughed up the ball on their next two possessions. The change of pace helped the Mountaineers go on an 8-0 run to pull ahead 14-10.
The press also led to foul trouble midway through the half.
Eight team fouls, including three on junior guard Eric Davis Jr. and two on freshman guard Matt Coleman, put West Virginia in the bonus and got Texas out of rhythm. The Longhorns failed to score for eight minutes, and West Virginia took full advantage. The Mountaineers ended the first half on a 13-2 run to go up 32-22 at the break.
The second half saw more inconsistency from Texas. West Virginia built its lead to 41-28 before a jumper from freshman forward Jericho Sims cut the lead to single-digits.
Texas switched to a press of its own and managed one final, furious rally. A steal by Roach led to an alley-oop to junior forward Dylan Osetkowski on the other end. Moments later, the forward cut the lead to eight.
But that was as close as Texas would get. West Virginia kicked it into gear and went on a 15-0 run to make it a 22-point game with six minutes to play.
The Mountaineers closed the game on a 41-14 run, connecting on 72 percent of their looks from behind the arc. Texas, meanwhile, went just 3-of-15 from three.
“As much as games today really, really hurt, they also better be lessons,” Smart said. “There better be opportunities to learn and understand what caused the game to get away from us after we got off to a pretty good start.”
The Longhorns (12–7, 3–4 Big 12) return home to host Iowa State on Monday at 6 p.m. The two teams met in Ames, Iowa, in early January. It took a career night by Osetkowski for Texas to escape, 74-70.
Iowa State is coming off a dominant 18-point win over Texas Tech — the largest victory over an AP top-10 opponent in program history.
“For our team, we gotta turn the page quickly to Iowa State,” Smart said. “And we gotta really focus on what goes into winning against them. They’ll be feeling good about themselves coming off of a win. And we’ve got to learn some lessons from today, but also move forward and be the best version of ourselves that we can be.”