Texas defense carves Mountaineers

Steve Helwick

Big 12 play is off to a favorable start for the Texas Longhorns.

After downing Kansas State by 20 in Manhattan, Texas (10–4, 2–0) followed up the conference opener with a definitive, nearly wire-to-wire 61-54 win over West Virginia (8–6, 0–2).

The hero of the night delivered his greatest work with 63 seconds remaining on the clock at the Frank Erwin Center. Point guard Matt Coleman drained a three to elevate Texas’ 56-54 lead to a five-point advantage. Coleman, who dazzled with a team-high 17 points, drained two free throws in the final minute to conclude the scoring for the night and seal a win over the perennial March Madness contender.

Guard Jase Febres connected on a layup with 12:46 left in the first half, giving Texas an 11-9 lead that would never be relinquished. Although the Longhorns held a firm grip on the lead, West Virginia remained in striking distance until the final buzzer, never trailing by double-digits during the contest in Austin.

Coleman engineered the victory as the point guard but Texas received additional contributions from forward Dylan Osetkowski and guard Elijah Mitrou-Long, who contributed 14 and 10 points, respectively. On the other side of the court, West Virginia’s scoring was limited by Texas’ stout defense. Only four Mountaineers broke the five-point barrier as the Longhorns’ held their third-consecutive opponent below 57 points. To lead West Virginia in a losing effort, power forward Derek Culver recorded a near double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds.

Thanks to Texas’ defense, the Longhorns were able to withstand a field goal drought which exceeded two minutes in the final frame of the contest. From 4:15 to 2:01 in the second half, Texas failed to score a single field goal, but the Mountaineers only pitched in two points during the key stretch of the night.

Overall, the game was one of the more efficient ones for Texas this season. The Longhorns won their third-straight game, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from 3-point range. Veteran leaders Coleman and Osetkowski not only combined for 31 points, but did so on a combined 66.7 percent shooting.

Texas will travel north to Stillwater with its unblemished conference record. The Longhorns hope to keep their winning streak alive after correcting upon the inconsistencies they faced in the middle of nonconference play.

Tipoff against Oklahoma State on Tuesday is at 6 p.m.