No. 6 West Virginia mentally absent in loss to Texas, Bob Huggins says


D. Miles Jr. made Three Point Jumper. Assisted by J. Carter.

1H (10:57) WVU Daxter Miles Jr. made Three Point Jumper. Assisted by Jevon Carter.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia had just split a pair of games against Kansas and Oklahoma last week to move up the national rankings.

The No. 6 Mountaineers fell flat on Wednesday night, falling to unranked Texas 56-49.

"I have always thought, as long as I've done this, when you make easy shots and when you can't make free throws, you're not mentally into what you're doing," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "And we weren't mentally into what we were doing."

The letdown came despite West Virginia having occupied the national rankings for 20 of the last 25 polls, dating to last season.

"This is a league you cannot relax at all. It's just how the league is," the Mountaineers' Devin Williams said. "I think it's just a learning experience, and we'll be back. This is something that we needed, and we just got a little too comfortable."

Javan Felix scored the final nine points for Texas and finished with 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range. He was also 7-of-8 from the foul line against a Mountaineers team (15-3, 4-2 Big 12) that had not lost at the WVU Coliseum this season.

During the key stretch, Felix had a one-hand follow-up shot, two free throws, a 3-pointer and two more foul shots for the Longhorns (12-6, 4-2).

Because of light snow, slush and ice, Texas' team bus failed to arrive at the WVU Coliseum until 6:15 p.m., just 45 minutes before the tip.

West Virginia was led by Williams, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Jonathan Holton, who had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Texas fought back from a brief deficit to take a 28-25 halftime lead over West Virginia. The Mountaineers charged ahead 34-29 with 15:24 left.

The Longhorns were ahead 42-37 with 9:18 remaining when West Virginia battled back. After Elijah Macon missed both free throws, Jaysean Paige got the ball and made a layup, and Holton followed with a score. Daxter Miles Jr.'s 3-pointer tied it.

Texas called a timeout with 6:17 left, then outscored West Virginia 14-7 the rest of the way.

The Longhorns, whose first-year coach, Shaka Smart, created a "havoc" press at his previous stop with VCU, turned the ball over just eight times.

The Mountaineers, who came into Wednesday's game having defeated then-No. 1 Kansas before losing to then-No. 2 Oklahoma, were averaging 25 points off turnovers, but against the Longhorns they scored only seven points off turnovers.

"We've been using a pretty good amount of full-court press in conference play, and our guys have taken to it more and more," Smart said. "At VCU, we practiced full-court pressure all the time. It took a couple of years, but we got really good at it. I did think, at times, the press was able to allow us to be the aggressors. The press didn't turn them over a ton, but we had some near turnovers, and we had some times where you kind of felt good about what happened coming out of it and then it was a matter of getting the rebound."

Neither team shot well. The Mountaineers were 19-of-60 from the field (31.7 percent) and just 3-of-21 from 3-point range (14.3 percent). Though West Virginia outrebounded Texas 49-33, the Mountaineers shot just 8-of-23 from the free throw line.


Texas: The Longhorns are 3-1 against top 25 teams this season. They lost to then-No. 25 Texas A&M 84-73 but have defeated then-No. 3 North Carolina 84-82 and now the Mountaineers.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers found themselves ranked as high as No. 6 for the first time since March 15, 2010. WVU has been ranked 25 out of the last 30 weeks, dating to last season.


Before Wednesday's game, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said he called Smart last season during the NCAA tournament. They wanted to talk about a particular Mountaineers opponent, but also to compare their presses. Smart said Huggins' "Press Virginia" was equal to that of Rick Pitino at Kentucky and Nolan Richardson's teams of the 1990s.

Smart led VCU to the Final Four in 2011 using the press. Smart's scheme allowed the Rams to lead the nation in team steals for each of the next three years.


The Longhorns continue to play without big man Cameron Ridle (6-foot-10, 290 pounds), who is out for a few more weeks with a broken foot.


West Virginia backups have been outscoring its first team in recent games. Texas switched that figure around. The Longhorns' subs outscored the Mountaineers backups 21-15.


Texas travels to No. 3 Kansas on Saturday. This marks the first time since 2012 that the Longhorns have played back-to-back games against opponents in the top 10 and first time in program history that UT has played consecutive teams in the top 10 in true road contests.

West Virginia goes to Texas Tech, also Saturday.