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It took everyone.
Short Kamaka Hepa, Jase Febres, Jericho Sims, and Gerald Liddell, Texas would need monumental efforts from the remaining active players in order to best No. 17 West Virginia. On offense, a career-high 22 points from Andrew Jones on 7-of-13 shooting led the way, with backcourt teammates Courtney Ramey and Matt Coleman adding 21 and 13, respectively.
On defense, every scholarship player was asked to increase their minutes and level of play against a stumbling but still potent Mountaineer team. Head coach Shaka Smart skillfully managed substitutions and foul volume for the final stretch of the game. Texas defeated WVU, 67-57, earning an upset win over a bona fide tournament team.
POINT 1 – AJ1 and RAMEY
With Matt Coleman at less than 100 percent due to a bruised heel, Texas needed to find scoring from elsewhere. It wasn’t likely to come from Royce Hamm or Kai Jones, two players who provide plenty of effort but lack offensive polish.
It wasn’t going to come from Sims, Febres, or Hepa due to their unavailability.
Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey had to have big nights for Texas to have a chance to win. They did.
Jones scored 16 and Ramey 11 in the first half. They continued to score in the second half, and posted 43 of Texas’ 67 points.
POINT 2 – BROCK CUNNINGHAM
“He’s a good fouler” – WVU head coach Bob Huggins
It wasn’t just fouling, though Cunningham racked up four in 16 minutes. He added several crucial offensive rebounds in the late stages of the game to keep possession with Texas and milk more and more clock.
He drew a difficult defensive assignment, guarding Mountaineer post players much larger than his listed 6-foot-6, 215-pound measurables. His +/- was +5. He added two important free throws late, but his work doesn’t often show up in the scorebook.
Except the fouls.
POINT 3 – SHAKA SMART
Smart only had eight players available Monday night. In the late stages of the game, every single post player had at least four fouls.
Smart had to keep rotating Hamm and Baker late. He wanted Baker in for offense, and Hamm in for defense.
Credit goes to the players for managing an extended stretch with four fouls as only Hamm ended up fouling out.
But Smart made sure the right guy was on the floor at the right time almost every time against West Virginia. He also mixed up defenses, throwing man and zone at the Mountaineers.
In addition to some of the on-court moves, Smart showed more emotion than he tends to show while on the sideline. He usually slaps the floor in support of his team. He was doing that consistently late in the second half.
He rarely, rarely, is assessed technical fouls. He received one in the second half.
When his team was against the wall, Smart led them to the best win on their resume.
POINT 4 – THE FUTURE
This is Texas’ first three game winning streak in conference since 2015-16. No better time.
Since their collapse February 15 in Ames, Texas has defeated TCU, Kansas State, and West Virginia with surprisingly convincing wins. Games at Texas Tech and Oklahoma remain, but a win at either locale would be a huge boost to what was previously a weak tournament resume.
More wins, the better.
POINT 5 – WVU DIDN’T PLAY WELL
Huggins was not pleased postgame with a few things, but the Mountaineers’ three point shooting (3-for-11) and free throw shooting (10-of-21) limited WVU’s chances at victory.
The size advantage WVU had over Baker, Hamm, Cunningham, and Kai Jones did not come to bear. Much of that can be attributed to Texas’ effort, but it’s worth noting this wasn’t a total anomaly for WVU. It continues a recent trend.