KANSAS CITY, Mo. —
Felix sets the pace for Texas
It’s simple: when sophomore guard Javan Felix is hot, Texas is as good as any team in the Big 12. Felix had 16 points Wednesday night and was relatively efficient from the field, hitting six of his 12 attempts.
Felix, a Louisiana native, has been streaky throughout the season and had been particularly erratic heading into the conference championships. In the three games since his impressive performance in a win over Baylor last month, Felix had a combined total of just 12 points.
But, marred in a terrible slump, a matchup with the Mountaineers was just what the doctor ordered for Felix. The stout shooting guard was great against West Virginia all season. In Texas’ three games against the Mountaineers this year, Felix averaged 17.3 points per game.
Staten’s stroke struggles
West Virginia’s Juwan Staten, who was the Big 12 leader in scoring heading into the game, was a major disappointment for the Mountaineers on Thursday night. Staten converted just one of his 11 field goal attempts and really struggled to penetrate Texas’ zone defense.
Staten’s lone field goal came on a fast break in the first half. With plenty of time and nobody chasing him down, the junior guard lined up for a dunk but came up short of the rim and was forced to lay it in. He came down holding his lower back and appeared hampered by the injury the rest of the way. Things went from bad to worse when Staten’s night came to an abrupt end midway through the second half as he rolled his ankle on a drive to the basket.
Texas triumphs three times
Texas’ quarterfinal win over the Mountaineers was the team’s third victory against West Virginia this season. The Longhorns beat Bob Huggins’ squad by 11 in Morgantown, W.Va., in January, by 17 in at the Erwin Center in February and were again victorious tonight, winning by 17 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
While Felix was certainly the best individual performer against the Mountaineers this season, it was Texas’ team defense that really stymied West Virginia in all three contests. The Longhorns’ zone often forced Staten and his Mountaineer teammates to settle for contested jumpers late in the shot clock, never giving them a chance to get in rhythm.
Looking forward to Baylor
Just a few minutes before Texas took to the court on Thursday night, Baylor knocked off Oklahoma, meaning the Longhorns will take on the Bears in the semifinals Friday night at 8 P.M.
Baylor’s upset of Oklahoma should give Texas some added confidence heading into its final four matchup. The Longhorns, who were winless in two games against the Sooners this season, beat the Bears handily both times the in-state foes met during the regular season. Texas’ freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor had a coming out party in Waco back in January, leading the Longhorns to a 74-60 road win while Javan Felix went off against the Bears in Austin, as Texas squeaked past Baylor 74-69 at home in late February.