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January 13, 2014

WVU shows fatigue in 80-69 loss to Texas




The hangover from Saturday appeared to be prevalent for the West Virginia Mountaineers Monday. After coming to within a point of defeating the 11-ranked team in the country, the Mountaineers struggled to find any momentum whatsoever at the Coliseum, falling to a hot Texas Longhorns squad 80-69.

Perhaps the most vocal individual for West Virginia following Saturday's was Terry Henderson. The sophomore guard, who nearly had a career afternoon against the Cowboys, spoke out postgame about a lack of preparation and his personal desire to step up the Mountaineer's overall game following the demoralizing defeat.

And although it may have been lacking later for the entire squad, that fire showed early against the Longhorns.

When the game got underway on Monday, Henderson seemingly took it upon himself to set that much-needed pace for the Mountaineers. A deep three-pointer and midrange jumper from the sophomore guard opened up an early offense spurt for West Virginia, as the Mountaineers jumped out to a quick 9-6 advantage.

But the Longhorns would not allow West Virginia to gain any significant separation. A pair of crucial defensive stops led to quick scores from Coach Rick Barnes' squad, keeping Texas out from 10-9 at the first media timeout.

Even with the motivated Henderson, and scrappy lineup to boot, the Mountaineers struggled to attack the harden Texas paint early and often in the contest. The Longhorns, sporting the top rebounding squad in the Big 12 entering the matchup, dominated the Mountaineers early in the paint, ripping down 10 boards in the first eight minutes to help keep them ahead at the following media break.

Henderson continued to lead the way for West Virginia, driving inside for an impressive left-handed layup to give the Mountaineers a one-point advantage, but a three pointer from Texas guar Martez Walker put the Longhorns up 17-16 with nine minute remaining in the contest.

Over the next several minutes, the Longhorns would continue to get the best of West Virginia, utilizing a strong post game to go over the Mountaineers. A miscommunication for Coach Bob Huggins' defense allowed Texas forward Connor Lambert to shift momentum towards the Longhorn's side midway through the half, as the sophomore slid his way through a porous West Virginia zone for an easy slam. The basket extended the Longhorn lead to five points.

But again, the Mountaineers would rely on Henderson to break an offensive lull. A midrange jumper from the sophomore guard broke the 9-2 Texas run, helping the Mountaineers enter the second media timeout down 23-20.

West Virginia would tie the ballgame exiting the timeout thanks in part to a jumper from Brandon Watkins, but the small burst of momentum would not kill the relentless Longhorn attack. If anything, the short break ignited a previously unseen Texas attack.

After the Mountaineers tied the contest at 23, the Longhorns managed to kill any potential for a West Virginia run. An 18-4 Texas run, aided by a strong Longhorn post game, put the visiting squad up 41-27 as the teams entered the half.

Exiting the locker room, it appeared that the Longhorns would not let off the throttle. A quick open jumper from Staten gave the Mountaineers a bit of hope to open up the contest, before the Longhorns again built up a rhythm.

A pair of early jumpers by Javan Felix helped spark an opening 7-2 run for Texas, putting the Longhorns up by 19 with 17 minutes remaining in the contest.

But the Mountaineers would not roll over and die this early in the half. Following the 19-point deficit, West Virginia managed to pull off a nice little spurt, with a barrage of midrange jumpers putting cutting into the deficit.

Still, the Longhorns managed to maintain a 50-36 advantage heading into the first media timeout.

The short break did not help boost play from the Mountaineers either, as the Longhorns continued to dominate West Virginia on both sides of the court. For a team that has relied heavily on its outside game at this point in the season, the Mountaineers appeared to struggle mightily from behind the arc as the game wound down, shooting 1-10 from three with 12 minutes remaining in the contest.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns continued to dominate the interior game. Another breakaway dunk by Lambert, his second of the game, and a pair of killer interior drives dug the hole even deeper for the Mountaineers, putting Coach Huggins' squad down 57-38 at the under 12 media timeout.

Bad fortune would continue to fall upon the Mountaineers offensively, as the backbone of West Virginia's offense continued to fall flat. After a Henderson three pointer opened up the contest against the Longhorns, the Mountaineers failed to find any rhythm whatsoever from beyond the arc, missing 15-straight from three to sport a 1-16 three-point deficit with 9:30 remaining in the contest.

Nathan Adrian would finally break the nearly 29-minute drought, forcing Texas to call a quick timeout with its 59-45 lead in tow.

Texas would quickly answer Adrian's trifecta with a Cameron Ridley dunk, helping the Longhorns maintain a 14-point advantage at the under-eight media timeout.

From here, the Longhorns would manage to pull away from the struggling West Virginia squad. A cold-shooting night from the floor continued during the last eight minutes for West Virginia as Texas continued to capitalize on every opportunity.

The Mountaineers would attempt to make it a contest late in the game, cutting the deficit to as much as 11 thanks to a late outside surge from Remi Dibo, but the 10-2 spurt proved to be too little for Coach Huggins' squad.

A strong shooting night for the Longhorns, coupled with an atrocious 4-25 night from three for the Mountaineers helped the Texas escape Morgantown with the easy victory.

Final: Texas 80, West Virginia 69.

The Mountaineers will return to action Saturday as they travel to Manhattan, KS to take on the Kansas State Wildcats. Tipoff is set for 1:30pm.


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