Don’t let the final score fool you. WVU got worked 80-69 at home by Texas. When a team loses by a big score, people will often say "they lost badly." WVU managed to close the score in the final minutes, but they lost badly by playing and especially shooting badly.
Here’s the good news: we’ve got three legitimate guards in Staten, Harris & Henderson. In fact, if WVU’s guards from the first 5:00 minutes and the last 5:00 minutes had shown up for the 30 minutes in between, the 11 point difference in the game would’ve been erased easily.
The Mountaineer guards scored the first 16 points for WVU, and it looked for a while like we were going to roll. Henderson scored 5, Harris 4, Staten 5 and then Henderson another 2. I was thinking to myself, "Damn, WVU can shoot. This team reminds me a lot of the WVU teams under John Beilein." And in some respects that is true – we’re great when shooting well.
Here’s the bad news: When this team is shooting cold it is really bad. And thanks to Coach Barnes, Texas has shown the rest of the Big 12 how to beat us - get up tight on Staten, Harris & Henderson and dare us let the big men shoot it (very reminiscent of when football teams stop the run and dare a QB to throw).
After the first 10 minutes, WVU was as bad at shooting as they’ve been all year. Including at the free throw line. After Henderson's early three pointer, WVU missed 15 straight 3-pointers – until 9:17 of the second half when we finally broke that skid. WVU finished 4 of 25 from behind the arc (16%). Vegas wouldn’t have taken your money before the game on whether the Mountaineers would out shoot UT from 3-point range – it turns out Texas was 4 for 9 (44%). That’s the kind of night it was.
The additional bad news for WVU (10-7) is that teams have figured out the pattern to beat us – face guard our three scorers and drop two big men into the paint to block any attempts to get to the iron. None of our big men can make a mid-range jumper consistently, and tonight they rushed these shots unnecessarily.
On top of poor scoring from our non-guards (5 forwards totaled 19 points), defensively they just got pushed around. There were lots of easy inside shots for Texas, who improved to 13-4 on the season. The Longhorn big men were overpowering on the boards (out rebounding us 49-30). Basically our inside game is awful. Seven dunks for UT – none for WVU.
We have three legitimate guards - Juwan Staten led all scorers with 23 points. However, Huggs & Co. better figure out something fast or we’re going to see a lot of what we saw tonight for the next month. Next up: Saturday, January 18, at Kansas State.