Longhorns bounce back with home win against West Virginia

Peter Sblendorio

For the first time since the start of Big 12 play, No. 20 Texas looked like a team worthy of all the preseason hype.
The Longhorns navigated No. 20 West Virginia’s high-pressure defense all game long en route to a 77-50 statement victory in front of their home fans. 
 The victory snapped an ugly two-game losing streak for the Longhorns, who were embarrassed at home against Oklahoma on Jan. 5 and before falling to Oklahoma State in Stillwater five days later.
The biggest reason for Texas’ impressive bounce effort against West Virginia was the reemergence of junior center Cam Ridley. After scoring a combined seven points in the losses against the Sooners and Cowboys, Ridley erupted for a season-high 19 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes
“This week in practice we worked on different ways to get me involved in the game,” Ridley said. “I came into the game with the mindset that I’m going to do whatever I can to help my team, because I haven’t been doing that."
Ridley bullied the Mountaineer’s much smaller frontcourt on both sides of the ball converting on eight of his 10 shot attempts while blocking four shots. His ferocious block on freshman guard Jevon Carter’s lay-up attempt with over nine minutes remaining in the first half forced West Virginia to call a timeout and caused the fans to raise to their feet in applause. 
“Cam set a great tone for us early,” said head coach Rick Barnes. 
Senior forward Johnathan Holmes, who scored just four combined points on 2-of-19 shooting in Texas’ back-to-back losses, also rebounded nicely with 16 points and nine rebounds. His shooting struggles from the field continued, however, as he made just 2-of-6 attempts, but he converted on 11-of-12 free throw attempts to help lead Texas to its highest point total of conference play. 
“It was a good win,” Holmes said. “It’s a conference win. It’s big for us moving forward [to win] against a really good team.”
The Longhorns played perhaps their best defensive game of the season, holding West Virginia to nearly 29 points below its season average. Texas limited the Mountaineers to just 24.1 percent shooting, the lowest a Big 12 team has ever shot against Texas in the regular season. 
With the win, the Longhorns improved to 2-2 in conference play. They’ll look to begin their first winning streak of conference play on Monday when they travel to Fort Worth to take on TCU.