With fans entering the Coliseum to participate in the “True Blue” promotion on Saturday, the WVU men’s basketball team wasn’t the only group feeling blue by the end of the night.
Thanks to a strong performance from freshman guard Courtney Ramey, the visiting Texas Longhorns came out on top over WVU in a 75-53 drubbing. The loss was the second-straight for the Mountaineers and the fifth in their last six games.
“In order for us to turn this around we're going to have to buy in on defense,” junior guard Chase Harler said. “When we kind of get into a little bit of a hole, we’ve got to stick together and keep competing. We didn’t do a very good job of that tonight.”
The woes of the Mountaineers started early as the team went the first four minutes without a basket — missing two free throw attempts and three consecutive shots from the field in the process. Despite senior forward Esa Ahmad knocking down a jumper for WVU’s first points, a powerful Texas offense was able to build a lead that the Mountaineers were chasing for the entirety of the game.
West Virginia was unable to score in the final two minutes of the first half and, therefore, entered the locker room at halftime down 34-28.
Returning to the floor for the second half, the Mountaineers struggled to counter the scoring of the Longhorns. Defensive lapses for WVU helped the lead that Texas held continue to grow, eventually ballooning to a game-high of 29 points. As fans departed the Coliseum in droves, the Mountaineers’ attempts to dig themselves out of the rut were all in vain.
“We don’t run our slides,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said after the game. “We can’t and won’t pass the ball. We have maybe two guys who can drive it, straight-line drive it, and the rest of our guys can’t.”
The large West Virginia deficit and corresponding defeat can be pinned upon struggles on both sides of the court. Compared to the Mountaineers, Texas finished with more rebounds (42-34), a better field goal percentage (45 percent to 35 percent) and fewer turnovers (eight against WVU’s 11).
One bright spot for the Mountaineers could be seen in the play of Ahmad as he was the only WVU player to finish with double-digit scoring. Ahmad ended the night with 14 points on six-of-15 shooting, while also hauling in four rebounds.
Following Saturday’s loss, the Mountaineers will be on hiatus for a week before travelling to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the Kansas Jayhawks. The 4 p.m. tipoff on Feb. 16 will be broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2.