It might not have been pretty, but as Head Coach Bob Huggins has stated throughout the year the Mountaineers need to "find a way."
On a snowy Monday night in Morgantown, the West Virginia Mountaineers pulled off their fourth Big 12 win of the season, defeating the Texas Longhorns in a close 60-58 matchup.
Continuing the trend seen between these conference foes in Austin last month, the Mountaineers and Longhorns got off to a rough start, playing sloppy basketball for the first few minutes of the contest.
The Mountaineers would strike first by dishing the ball to Deniz Kilicli at the top of the key. The senior would demonstrate some rarely-seen skills, driving the basketball into the paint for an easy layup and West Virginia lead.
But the Longhorns would answer quickly from beyond the arc. A bevy of threes from Julien Lewis and Ioannis Papaetrou shifted the early momentum in Texas' favor, giving the visitors a 10-8 lead at the under 12:00 media timeout.
The ugly play would continue for both squads, with the Mountaineers and Longhorns exchanging sloppy series after sloppy series, with Texas coming out on top in most instances. The Longhorns continued to shoot well from outside, with Sheldon and Papapetrou providing a bulk of the visitor's offense.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers continued to struggle on both ends of the court. Unable to find any offense success, West Virginia went 7:30 minutes without a field goal before a Kilicli hook broke the streak, pulling his squad to within five - 17-12 - at the 7:46 mark.
An exchange of three pointers between Texas' Papapetrou and West Virginia's Eron Harris sent the teams into the under 8:00 media timeout with the score holding at 20-15.
The Mountaineers finally found their spark in the next span of play, grabbing the lead from the Longhorns thanks to a 7-0 run into the final media timeout.
An impressive dribble-drive layup by Jabarie Hinds helped spark the Mountaineer's early run, before a quick three from Terry Henderson finally put West Virginia over the top. The Henderson basket gave the Mountaineers a 22-20 lead, their first since going up 2-0 on the opening possession.
The run would not die coming out of the timeout, with the Mountaineers extending their led by seven - 27-20 - before the Longhorns finally broke the streak at 11-0.
A midrange jumper off the screen by Keaton Miles and another three from Henderson ultimately contributed to the Mountaineer's 17-5 run, giving West Virginia a 32-25 halftime lead.
After starting out the game flat offensively, both squads tried to help those in attendance forget about early offensive woes with quick attacks to the basket opening out of halftime. The Mountaineers continued to rely on the shooting prowess of Harris, continuing his recent hot-streak with a three pointer off the missed Hinds layup.
Not to be outdone, the Longhorns added a touch of flash to their offensive attack, with Lewis lobbing up an alley-oop to a flying Cameron Ridley for the slam. The dunk helped Texas cut into West Virginia's lead, moving back to within eight of the home team.
The Mountaineer's lead continued to bounce back and forth between single and double digits leading into the first media timeout of the half, with a bulk of the offensive production coming from Hinds. After having an inconsistent first half, the sophomore guard put the team on his back, scoring six-consecutive points t0 give the Mountaineers an 11 point lead.
Along with Hinds, the Mountaineers found significant offensive improvement altogether. After starting the game with a poor 2-12 performance from the field, West Virginia experienced an offensive surge, going 12-16, thrusting them into a 44-33 lead.
But the Longhorns would soon put together a short offensive burst of their own. Taking advantage of two blocks and three turnovers, the Longhorns would create offense from defense and attack the Mountaineers with a quick 8-1 run to pull within four.
Exiting the media timeout, it continued to be all Texas. The Longhorns managed to take advantage of West Virginia's continued inbound struggles, intercepting a Hinds bounce pass. Texas would exploit a lax West Virginia defense on the ensuing possession, hitting DeMarcus Holland for the slam and cutting further into a once sizable Mountaineer advantage.
After leading by as much as 11 in the second half, the Mountaineers would continue to give Texas opportunity after opportunity, allowing the Longhorns to spark a 16-3 to take the lead 49-47 at the under 8:00 media timeout. West Virginia's earlier offensive success was quickly forgotten, as an unsuccessful string of offensive sets played into the hands of their opponent.
Both squads would proceed to exchange leads, with Hinds providing a bulk of the offense for West Virginia when they found opportunities. A hook by Kilicli, however, off the entry pass from Kevin Noreen would break the Longhorn's advantage, pushing the Mountaineers back into the lead, 51-49.
The lead would continue to fluctuate, with the Mountaineers finding some rhythm on offense. A three from Texas' Julien Lewis was quickly countered by the Mountaineer's Harris, giving the freshman 12 points on the evening. The three gave West Virginia a one point lead heading into the final media timeout.
West Virginia would continue to push Texas offensively exiting the timeout. A runner, and-one for Kilicli pushed the Mountaineers to a four point lead, prompting a timeout from Texas with 2:28 remaining.
For Kilicli, the late layup was simply a cap to another impressive performance. After struggling to find consistency throughout the season, the big man from Turkey would make his presence known, recording 14 points and four rebounds on the night.
A switch to the 1-3-1 zone for the Mountaineers proved to give Texas fits, as the Longhorns struggled to find any open looks or penetration against the set. The Mountaineers would remain in the zone for the final two minutes of the game, helping pull off the victory.
Final score: West Virginia 60, Texas 58.
Along with Deniz Kilicli's 14 points, West Virginia guards Eron Harris and Jabarie Hinds greatly contributed to the Mountaineer's victory, scoring 13 and 14 points on the night, respectively.
West Virginia will return to action this Saturday at TCU. Tipoff is set for 4:00pm.