Freshman guard Eric Davis Jr. forced a steal and knocked down a fast-break three with 6:39 left in the first half on Tuesday night.
No. 10 West Virginia answered with its own three.
On the ensuing possession, senior forward Connor Lammert hit one from three. West Virginia answered again.
Davis came down the court again and got the ball near the top of the arc. He took a few dribbles, pulled up and let the ball fly. The result didn’t change — a swish and an ovation from the Frank Erwin Center crowd.
“It definitely was a heat check,” Davis said.
Davis scored all 15 of his points in the first half — 12 coming from 3-pointers — propelling No. 24 Texas to a 85–78 win over No. 10 West Virginia.
“We took some tough losses and it’s kind of hard to bring swagger,” Davis said. “That was the biggest thing. Just bring a lot of energy. Swagger is basically energy.”
Of course, Davis had to spark what was a sloppy Longhorn offense. Texas fell behind 12–4 early and looked on the verge of getting run off its own floor. West Virginia’s press caused problems early, forcing three Longhorn turnovers in the opening minutes.
“I think it was just jitters to start the game,” junior guard Isaiah Taylor said. “As we got comfortable in the press at their place in Morgantown, we did a good job with it. I think today we did an even better job.”
The freshman hadn’t scored in double-digits since Texas’ Jan. 30 win over Vanderbilt, but immediately made his presence felt by getting to the free-throw line.
He hit his first 3-pointer with 9:51 left in the first half and didn’t miss from deep. The sequence where he and West Virginia traded threes helped give Texas the lead, and he hit another one before halftime. Davis’ hot shooting gave the Longhorns a 45–36 lead at the break.
“The way that he spearheaded that run along with the other guys on the floor, I think when we watch the tape we’ll say that was the critical stretch right there,” head coach Shaka Smart said.
Davis was quiet in the second half, but the other Longhorns built on the lead he helped build.
Taylor kept Texas afloat offensively, scoring 13 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. West Virginia made a late push, but Taylor went four-of-four from the free-throw line in the final minute to seal it for Texas.
“He is so fast,” Smart said. “Even when you dedicate two guys to him, he can beat those two guys.”
Freshman guard Kerwin Roach Jr. and freshman guard/forward Tevin Mack also sunk key free throws late to help Texas. But it was Davis’ first half sequence that Smart said won Texas the game.
“Me,” Davis said when asked which freshman is the most confident. “I’m always confident no matter what. I combined for seven points in my last four games? I’m still the most confident.”