Texas stampedes Mountaineers

KANSAS CITY – It seemed appropriate that West Virginia University’s quarterfinal game against Texas in the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Thursday night took place at the Sprint Center.

That’s because the Longhorns sprinted out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back in embarrassing and eliminating the Mountaineers, 66-49.

As a result, 17-15 WVU won’t be one of the 68 teams that will be invited to the NCAA Tournament, and will await word on whether it has been selected to play in the National Invitational Tournament or one of the other non-championship postseason events such as the College Invitational Tournament.

The Longhorns (23-9) took off faster than a Texas tornado, scoring the first nine points of the game in exactly three minutes. Meanwhile, West Virginia got off four shots, three of them treys, all missing their mark.

But it didn’t stop there. When Longhorn Javan Felix hit a 3-point goal with 16:11 left in the half, he not only gave Texas a 12-0 lead, but also forced Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins to call a timeout even though a media timeout was imminent.

WVU finally scored at the 15:27 mark when Brandon Watkins took a pass from Eron Harris and lit up WVU’s side of the scoreboard.

But any solace WVU fans might take in that quickly was erased as Felix drilled another 3-pointer and then assisted on Jonathon Holmes’ jumper for a 17-2 Texas lead and yet another Huggins timeout, this one with 12:24 to go.

West Virginia made its biggest run of the half -four points -to cut a 21-4 margin to 21-8, but then watched Texas go on an 8-0 run for a 29-8 lead at the five-minute mark. The Mountaineers did manage to play the Longhorns on even terms over those five minutes, as the half ended with a football-type score: Texas 35, West Virginia 14.

When Remi Dibo hit a pair of early jumpers in the second half, West Virginia fans hoped the Mountaineers might work their way back into the game, but that never happened.

Instead, Texas’ lead continued to grow, hitting the 30-point mark when Jonathan Holmes made a 3-pointer with 9:47 to play to put the Longhorns on top, 54-24.

In a desperation move, West Virginia kept firing up 3-pointers, making enough to cut the final margin to 17 at 66-49.

Texas was led in scoring by Holmes, who accounted for a game-high 20 points. Felix added 16 for the Longhorns.

Watkins was the only Mountaineer to reach double figures, accounting for 10 points. Henderson had eight and Nathan Adrian seven.