WVU basketball advanced to the semifinals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Thursday night after defeating Texas, 63-53 in Kansas City.
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jevon Carter shouldered the load for the Mountaineers, scoring 21 points on 7-12 shooting, including five makes from beyond the arc.
However, it was a rather ugly night for coach Bob Huggins’ team overall. The Mountaineers only shot 29% from the field, turned the ball over 13 times and shot a woeful 50% from the free throw line.
“Survive and advance,” isn’t that the big saying in March, though?
West Virginia started out red-hot from deep, hitting their first five attempts and finishing with a 54% clip. The ‘Eers also managed 16 points off 14 Longhorn turnovers.
The two Mountaineers named First-Team All-Big 12 Defense, Nathan Adrian and Carter, registered a combined four blocks and three steals.
The Mountaineers entered the half up 39-30, putting Texas in familiar territory. One day prior to the WVU-Texas game, the Longhorns overcame a six point halftime deficit en-route to their comeback victory over Texas Tech.
WVU had ample opportunities to bury the Longhorns in the second half, but struggled to capitalize.
Esa Ahmad finally returned to the lineup, but it was Tarik Phillip who started in his place. Ahmad was obviously rusty, managing only three points and had just as many turnovers..
Elijah Macon continued to be a bright spot, scoring eight points and collecting 10 rebounds while manning the paint defensively for the ‘Eers.
Two freshman led the way for the Longhorns; Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen. Jones scored 13 points, while future NBA-lottery pick Allen scored nine and pulled down 10 boards. Texas’ season is likely finished after the WVU loss, though. Head coach Shaka Smart completes his second season at Texas with just an 11-22 record. Don’t expect the Longhorns to stay down for long, though – Smart knows how to win.
Coach Huggins and the Mountaineers will look to make adjustments, then it’s right back to action against Kansas State Friday night. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and will tip at 9 p.m. After watching No.1 seed Kansas lose to TCU Thursday, the ‘Eers should be the favorite to win the Big 12 Championship.