Ho hum. Another day, another impressive showing against a ranked Big 12 opponent. Unlike the Texas Longhorns' previous two games, this one resulted in a +1 in the W column. It's Texas' eighth conference win, matching their 2015 total. Unlike the bricklaying slugfest in Morgantown, this tilt featured impressive offensive performances from both sides. The West Virginia Mountaineers shot 46.8% from the field and hit 7-18 three-pointers, with a potent inside-out combo of Devin Williams (18 points) and Tarik Phillip (19 points). But Texas one-upped the Mounties, shooting a cool 48.1%, including 10-22 from beyond the arc. Hitting 83.3% on 30 foul shots--Isaiah Taylor was 13-13 alone--didn't hurt the cause.
Eric Davis' scintillating first half
Davis clearly watched Tevin Mack's scorched earth performance against Iowa State and decided that anything Mack could do, he could do better. Starting at the 6:46 mark, Davis' play-by-play: steal, trey, trey, trey, deuce, trey. Pretty good.
That NBA Jam-style HE'S ON FIRE stretch right before the 1H U-4 TV timeout
Starting with that triple by Davis, the next shots were as follows. Made 3 by Davis, made 3 by Nathan Adrian, made 3 by Connor Lammert, made 3 by Jevon Carter, made 3 by Davis, putback slam by Esa Ahmad after a missed 3, timeout breather. If you didn't get a little hot and bothered by that, I'll have US Cocksman wrangle up a Keri Russell gif ASAP.
Longhorn ball handling after 4 minutes in
Texas turned the ball over 3 times in the first 4 minutes, West Virginia went up 12-4, and Shaka called timeout. From then on, the Longhorns turned the ball over only 4 additional times, besting their 8 TO water mark in Morgantown by 1. West Virginia's press will likely do some damage in the NCAA Tournament to some poor, unsuspecting souls, but Texas clearly has the kryptonite for it in the form of 4 upperclassmen ball-handlers and a coach who made his living teaching the press. Bob Huggins' witchcraft and wizardry simply wasn't going to work against Texas this year.
He left some floaters short and hasn't shed his beyond the arc allergies, but 23 points, 7 assists, 4 boards, 2 blocks, and a partridge in a pear tree screams good night.
In addition to Eric Davis' 15, Kerwin Roach and Tevin Mack had impressive "glue guy" type performances. Mack chipped in 10 points and Roach 8. The rest of their box score looks like a Mark Titus Trillion special, but both guards did an admirable job ballhandling against the press. Mack also had the unenviable job of buying minutes against Devin Williams and did so with aplomb. My favorite play of the game occurred midway in the 2H, when Roach was in the middle of a 7-player scrum after a WVU miss and high pointed the board, tipping it to Connor Lammert for the defensive rebound. Incredible play.
One of the hidden perils of having small children: watching sports constitutes either live viewing with one eye and half a brain, or saving it on DVR and speeding through the dead balls and commercials. Either way, the volume isn't very high and you're almost certainly not paying attention the announcers. For this game, I lucked into getting an uninterrupted viewing of the first half, and came away very impressed with Miles Simon's color guy effort. He packed researched facts into interesting anecdotes and jumped in at just the right time. ESPN's college basketball color commentator roll call is an A+ lineup.
The Mixed Bag
Javan Felix, penetrator/defender?
I've been as impressed with Felix all-year as BWG's undying love for his Amish Fire Hydrant. Felix has learned to optimize his stout, strong body type in the college game, with a plus ability to get into the lane and find an opening to shoot. He's a plus ballhandler and defender, so long as you're not putting him against an ultra-quick guard. And when he shoots an open 3, you always expect it to go in. Except he shot only 1-5 from distance last night, and is quietly now shooting just 26.7% (16-60) in Big 12 play.
Devin Williams, destroyer of worlds
18 and 12, 9-11 from the field. Texas' centers, Prince Ibeh and Shaquille Cleare, combined for 34 minutes, 4 points, and 2 rebounds. Yeah, Ibeh's 6 blocks were nice, but it's hard for him to optimize his weaponry when he's saddled with foul trouble all game. Lammert led the team with 6 rebounds, but without Ibeh and Cleare pulling their weight, Texas got outrebounded 40-22, which is, well, less than optimal.
The last four minutes
At the U-4 TV timeout, Texas led 73-59 and turned on cruise control. A combination of lack of hustle and zombie mental processing allowed the Mountaineers to make things interesting. Luckily, Texas built enough of a buffer and hit their free throws, but West Virginia had it down to a two-possession game in the final minutes. Huggins decided to spend the final seconds padding both teams' offensive stat lines while a chorus of boos rained down from the Burnt Orange rafters like...okay maybe it was the three O-zone students left that decided not to leave early and beat the traffic and they were sitting where acoustics perfected against the cavernous drum ceiling. Still counts as terrorizing the defeated.
All in all, another very impressive performance from the Longhorns and another resume win for March.