A two-handed alley-oop slam from sophomore center Cameron Ridley late in the second half capped off Ridley’s total dominance of West Virginia on Saturday night.
Ridley, who finished the game with 17 points, six rebounds and a game-high three blocks, led Texas to an easy 88–71 victory over the Mountaineers at the Frank Erwin Center.
Whether it was blocking a shot into the third row, bounce passing out of a double team to set up an easy layup or the viciously slamming the ball in, Ridley proved once again that he is a much improved player.
“I enjoy blocking shots and dunking on people,” Ridley said. “Whenever I’m able to do those things, it gets the crowd going and gives us an edge because the adrenaline starts pumping.”
With sophomore guard Demarcus Holland guarding the wing, Texas’ point guard combination of freshman Isaiah Taylor and sophomore Javan Felix embraced the challenge of shutting down West Virginia superstar Juwan Staten. Staten, who averages 18.1 points per game, had just 14 points on 6-for-16 shooting from the field in the contest.
After missing points from shots that were way off early in the first half, Staten was greeted with “air ball” chants from the Texas crowd each time he touched the ball for the rest of the game. Staten, a junior guard, appeared to be increasingly frustrated by the taunts as the game wore on, often forcing up uncharacteristic shots in the second half.
“Stopping [Staten] was really a team effort,” Barnes said. “He is just so terrific in the open court that we felt we had to get all five of our guys back in transition. Overall, that might be as well as we played all year defensively.”
Offensively, the Longhorns played effectively as a unit. The team had a season-high 18 assists and each of Texas’ starters had at least 11 points.
“One of the best games we’ve had as far as moving the ball,” Holland said. “They dropped into the 1-3-1 zone and tried to slow us down, but Coach Barnes said the only thing that would slow us down was dribbling, so we just kept passing.”
The Longhorns’ lone blemish on the night was perimeter defense. Texas fouled Mountaineer 3-point shooters four separate times, a rare feat at any level of basketball.
“I’ve never been a part of a team that did that,” Holland said. “Coach Barnes is pretty mad about it, so I don’t really want to talk about that.”