MORGANTOWN — With 11:32 left to play in the second half of Saturday’s game between the Longhorns and the West Virginia Mountaineers, junior forward Dylan Osetkowski rattled home a step-through lay-up to cut the Mountaineer lead to just eight.
After that bucket, the Longhorns wouldn’t score for almost five minutes.
The game up to that point had gone about as I expected it to. Texas was hanging with a tough, Top 10 team on the road on a Saturday in the toughest conference in college basketball. The low scoring was tough to stomach, but these were two teams that are big on defensive pressure and making the opponent uncomfortable. WVU succeeded at doing just that, and Texas suffered because of it.
Instead of looking at the full game, I’m going to take a look at the five-minute period that saw the WVU lead balloon from eight to 23.
10:58 – Daxter Miles Jr. hits a difficult shot over Eric Davis with the shot clock winding down. WVU immediately comes out in a press. 47-37 WVU
10:33 – Osetkowski misses a wide open corner three after receiving a great pass from Jacob Young, who had attracted three defenders. Good offense, bad miss of a wide open three. WVU gets the rebound.
10:02 – Sagaba Konate gets an easy two-footer over Mohamed Bamba. Jevon Carter sliced his way into the paint, found Wesley Harris at five feet, who found Konate at two feet. Good offensive set by WVU. 49-37 WVU, Mountaineers enter the press again.
9:37 – Bamba misses an open three after another good offensive set. WVU gets a rebound Osetkowski was fighting for.
9:27 – Davis is called for a foul trying to get a loose ball after slightly losing his balance. Fourth foul on Davis, but he stays in.
9:21 – Carter hits a deep three. Lazy defense and switching on Carter, who was the inbounder. 52-37 WVU, they press.
9:03 – Timeout Texas
8:50 – Kerwin Roach uses a Bamba screen to drive into the lane and find Matt Coleman open in the corner. Coleman misses the makeable three. Sims called for an over-the-back foul. Texas presses.
8:35 – WVU breaks a semi-disorganized press. James Bolden hits a well-defended three over Bamba. 55-37 WVU.
8:10 – Coleman misses a runner he’s very capable of making.
7:42 – Carter is fouled by Coleman on the shot. Carter makes both. 57-37 WVU. They press, and Bolden is called for a foul on the inbound. After the foul, Osetkowski can’t run the baseline anymore. He lobs a pass over Bamba, turnover.
7:25 – Miles hits a deep, well-defended three. 60-37 WVU.
6:51 – Coleman finally gets a runner to go. 60-39, WVU.
Texas would only score 12 more points the rest of the game, while the Mountaineers would grab 26 more points. In addition to the spell that broke the game open, Texas went on a 2:48 scoreless run to end the game.
In trying to find a meaning in the numbers, there’s one easy takeaway – WVU is a good shooting team. They normally shoot 43 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep. In the second half, the Mountaineers shot a blistering 65.5 percent from the field and made 8-of-11 threes attempted. By contrast, Texas was 3-of-15 from deep for the entire game.
The defensive effort still looks like it’s there, but the seven-ish man rotation (Jase Febres only played nine minutes, while James Banks and Royce Hamm both played less than five) is going to take its toll on the team. It’s going to take its toll on shooting, and it looked that way in the West Virginia game.
Texas takes on a team they’ve already beat on the road in Iowa State tonight at the Erwin Center. Texas had Andrew Jones for that game, so they now have to figure out how to play against the Cyclones without him. Texas cannot afford to drop any more home conference games if they expect to make the tournament.
Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but even though that scoreless stretch looks terrible, it’s not due to terrible basketball. There was only one really bad offensive and defensive set, but shots weren’t falling, and that is always going to make it look a lot worse.
With that, shots haven’t been falling all year. Young, Roach, and Bamba led the Horns with nine points apiece. They were a combined 8-of-23 shooting. It needs to change or Texas will be hosting games at the Erwin Center in March for the NIT.