The Frank Erwin Center will play host Saturday to a matchup that has turned into one of Texas’ biggest Big 12 contests in the last half of the season.
West Virginia (15-10, 7-5 Big 12), which has grown into one of the league’s hottest teams, will travel south to Texas to take on the Longhorns (19-5, 8-3 Big 12) Saturday night.
Texas and West Virginia are tied in their series, with both teams winning three games each. The Longhorns won the last game against the Mountaineers 80-69 in January in Morgantown, W. Va., led by sophomore guard Javan Felix, who posted 19 points in the contest.
Now, Felix is leading his team into this matchup after tallying 27 points in Texas’ romp of Oklahoma State on Tuesday. Felix hit a career-high six 3-pointers, which has given him much more confidence in hitting those outside shots that he was hesitant to take in the past.
“I know I can make those shots and it’s just a matter of me taking them,” Felix said in a Feb. 11 press release. “That’s something my teammates got on me about — about stopping passing up shots. That’s what I’ve tried to do, just take my open looks and get them within the flow of the offense.”
Texas was without leading scorer Jonathan Holmes in Tuesday’s game. While he is currently still a game-time decision for Saturday’s contest, multiple Longhorns have stepped up to replace their lone scholarship upperclassman.
Freshman guard Martez Walker noted a career-high 12 points against the Cowboys and brought a new energy to the court in replacement of Holmes.
“It is nice to come back and play better than we had the last two games, that is what was nice about it,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes after Tuesday’s win. “I thought we had guys who were a little bit more locked in and focused and really tried to do the things we talked about. We did a nice job of just coming back and playing as a team.”
Texas looks to grab its ninth win in the last 10 games as it sits in second place in the conference. West Virginia, which was predicted to finish seventh in the Big 12 just in front of Texas, is coming off a 25-point win against No. 11 Iowa State. The Mountaineers have now won four of their last five games and are tied for fourth in the conference.