Mountaineers win second-straight conference game, take down Texas 60-58
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 07:02
Well, it’s official.
The West Virginia men’s basketball team has its first conference win streak since joining the Big 12 this year, after edging out Texas 60-58 Monday night at the WVU Coliseum.
Sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds led a balanced offensive attack for the Mountaineers with 14 points. Hinds was 5 of 10 from the field and a perfect 4 of 4 from the charity stripe. Senior forward Deniz Kilicli also netted 14 points to go with four rebounds and two assists, which earned him a little praise from his coach after the game.
"I think he was terrific. (He was) so much more active," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "I think the last two games is the best two all-around games Deniz has played.
"If we can keep him that active, that helps our team a bunch."
Freshman guard Eron Harris also got into double figures with 13 points Monday night, despite shooting just 3 of 10 from the field. Harris countered by staying aggressive and earning six trips to the free throw line, where he capitalized on five of them.
"He’s a competitive guy, and he’s made a lot of progress," Huggins said of Harris. "I think more importantly, his teammates have confidence in him, and they’re looking to get him the ball.
"I think everybody else has figured out he can make shots, so he’s being guarded a lot better. But I think the most important thing is they’re looking to get him the ball."
Texas was also very balanced on offense, as four different Longhorn players scored in double-figures.
Sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan led all Longhorn scorers with 14, but shot just 2 of 10 from the field, including 1 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Freshman guard Javan Felix scored 12, while sophomore guard Julien Lewis and freshman forward Ioannis Papapetrou each pitched in 10.
The win capped a season sweep of Texas and improved West Virginia to 3-2 all-time against the Longhorns.
Stout defense was again a foundation for the West Virginia victory as the Mountaineers forced 15 turnovers and scored 13 points off of those turnovers.
West Virginia’s bench was another notable catalyst, outscoring the Longhorns 15-8.
WVU actually trailed by as many as seven early on in the first period against Texas, but a 17-5 run over the last 6:52 of the half turned the deficit into a 32-25 advantage for the Mountaineers at the intermission.
Both teams traded baskets consistently to open up the second half, but the Mountaineers managed to slowly push their advantage to double-digits by the 14:59 mark.
However, much like WVU did in the first contest in Austin, the Longhorns stormed their way back into the game via an 18-5 run of their own to tie the game at 47-47 with 9:13 in the second half and then move ahead 49-47 on Feliz’s two made free throws on their next possession.
But West Virginia, despite being notorious for it’s second-half lapses this season, refused to lie down.
Harris gave the Mountaineers back a 55-54 lead after netting a long two-point field goal from the wing, and despite some sloppy possessions down the stretch, West Virginia never relinquished the lead again.
After the hard fought win, Huggins told the media that despite his team’s .500 record (and sub .500 conference record), he still believes his team can play their way into a NCAA tournament selection.
"Sure. Why wouldn’t I?" Huggins said. "You just have to win games. The formula is pretty simple – you have to win."
Monday’s win improved West Virginia to 9-3 this season in contests where it held a lead of any size at the half.
The Mountaineers will next return to action Feb. 9 at TCU, where they will attempt to make it three conference wins in a row for the first time in the Big 12.