It’s kind of funny that Texas is the No. 20 team in the nation, yet they are in eighth place in their conference. West Virginia is No. 16, but third place in the Big 12.
After a great 7-0 start, the Longhorns have disappointed a bit, especially in Conference play. Their buzzer-beating win at Connecticut doesn’t look as great right now and they’ve lost against almost every other relevant team. That includes a huge 21-point home loss to Oklahoma and on the road at Oklahoma State by 11 last weekend. They need to right the ship quick because things will never be easy in this conference.
West Virginia, meanwhile, is sitting with a pretty 15-2 record. They aren’t ranked higher mainly because their first win against a currently ranked team just happened when they destroyed Oklahoma 86-65 on Tuesday. The Mountaineers already have two Conference road wins on the year (TCU, Texas Tech), but playing in Austin is going to be a bit more difficult, no matter how poor Texas has been recently.
WVU wasn’t supposed to amount to much this year, especially with the loss of Eron Harris (17.2 PPG in 2013-14), but the Mountaineers have a deeper team because of it. OUtside of stud Juwan Staten (15.8 PPG) leading the way, West Virginia has nine other guys that average at least 12.9 minutes per Game, which is rarely ever seen at this level, unless of course you’re Kentucky. What has helped greatly, especially so far in the Big 12 is the growth of Devin Williams and addition of Jonathan Holton, both big guys. against a sizable team like Texas, they become super important, not only on defense, but especially on the glass.
Texas is one of the best rebounding teams in the country with bruisers like Myles Turner, Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley working the paint. The problem for them is that the return of leading scorer Isaiah Taylor has not gone over as well as hoped. His inability to shoot is becoming a problem for this offense as he’s now hitting only 38.5% of his shots and is 9-of-35 from the field since returning from injury. Even guys like Holmes and Javan Felix are having trouble connecting at a consistent rate.
Even with that said, West Virginia is actually a worse shooting team than Texas, granted they don’t have one of their main players shooting below a 40% clip.
Texas is back at home and they have the advantage in this Game even after a couple losses. This is the first real road test for the Mountaineers and we’ll really get to see just how good this team is. Can Staten carry them on the road? And their depth, one of their strong suits, is almost getting matched in this Game as Texas uses a lot of guys as well.
The Longhorns have the skill, but a lot of people have been waiting for them to put it all together in a big win. It’ll come one of these days, could it come at the hands of West Virginia?
We like Texas by 4