Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament Preview: Why The Mountaineers Will Beat Texas

Staten and the Mountaineers look to outplay the Texas guards. - Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Mountaineer Nation wants to curl into the fetal position. They dread Thursday night. Both stats and the “eye test” tell us that this is a bad matchup. But WVU will win the third meeting in Kansas City.

Last Saturday evening, Mountaineer fans cringed at the realization that WVU would face Texas for a third time. This is the same Longhorn team that

  • beat WVU in Morgantown, 80-69, in mid-January
  • buried the Mountaineers in Austin, 88-71, in mid-February
  • shot 55% from the field against WVU
  • outscored WVU 80-40 in the paint
  • outrebounded the Mountaineers 90-56

Yet, WVU will win the third meeting in Kansas City.

Why?

Guard play.

Yes, guard play.

Before you dismiss the remainder of this article, hear me out.

Texas guards were on fire when they put a beat down on WVU. The Longhorns won nine of ten games during a mid-season stretch where they beat Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State and West Virginia (twice). The second and tenth games of that streak were against WVU.

However, since that mid-season run, the Longhorns finished the season 2-4, losing to Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Admittedly, all of those loses were away from Austin. However, Texas even struggled at home against Baylor and TCU.

The reason Texas collapsed at season's end?

Guard play.

The production of Isaiah Taylor, Javan Felix, Demarcus Holland, Damarcus Croaker, Martez Walker, and Kendal Yancy has fallen off precipitously.

Here's the proof.

Texas Guard Production During Mid-Season Winning Streak

Opponent

Points

% of total points

FG%

3pt FT%

FT%

Texas Tech

39

58

45

33

100

at WVU

48

60

52

50

79

Iowa State

38

44

24

29

85

Kansas State

39

54

44

29

58

at Baylor

47

64

43

20

68

Kansas

41

51

39

33

68

at TCU

23

39

23

21

75

at Kansas St (L)

40

70

33

30

100

Oklahoma St

62

71

48

47

80

WVU

52

59

51

33

83

average

43

57

40

33

80

Notice that the guards averaged 57% of Texas' total points, despite only shooting 40% from the field and 33% from the three point line. They averaged 80% from the free throw line.

Against WVU, Texas guards torched the Mountaineers for 100 points, which was 60% of Texas' total points. They shot 51% from the field and 81% from the free throw line. Longhorn guards averaged 11 assists and turned the ball over ten times per game.

Texas Guard Production During Late Season Slump - all losses

Opponent

Points

% of total points

FG%

3pt FT%

FT%

at Iowa State

48

63

31

24

93

at Kansas

18

33

16

14

56

at Oklahoma

23

35

27

8

73

at Texas Tech

28

53

31

29

50

average

29

46

26

19

68

Notice that the guards averaged only 46% of Texas' total points. They shot only 26% from the field and a woeful 19% from the three point line. Free throw percentage declined to only 68%.

Texas guard play has really gone sour toward season's end. Here are the totals.

Longhorn Guards in Decline

Decline

Points

% of total points

FG%

3pt FT%

FT%

-14

-11

-14

-14

-12

WVU will beat Texas on Thursday night in Kansas City. WVU needs to prevent Taylor, Felix and Holland from getting into the paint. WVU needs to keep Texas' guards on the perimeter, where they shoot horribly.

I attended the game in Austin. From the standpoint of WVU guard play, the game was a total disaster. Staten, Harris, Henderson and Browne couldn't stop the Longhorn guards from driving the lane, shooting layups and making pull up jumpers.

WVU will play mostly zone defense in Kansas City, pack the lane and force Texas to beat the Mountaineers from the perimeter. And Texas won't be able to do it.

The bottom line is this: Texas' guards played out of their minds twice against WVU. The third time will be different. The Longhorn guards continue their slump in Kansas City.

WVU 75 Texas 72

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