WVU men headed deep into the heart of Texas

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia men’s basketball team is heading into Texas at an interesting time, to say the least.

As the Lone Star State gets pounded by winter weather, resulting in power outages and water shortages, coach Bob Huggins and company are hitting the road for a three-game stint across the state. Saturday’s game against No. 12 Texas, scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on ABC, is the first of those games.

The No. 13 Mountaineers (14-6, 7-4 Big 12) will follow that up with a game at TCU on Tuesday and at Baylor on Thursday — three games in six days.

“I can’t remember the last time we played three games in six days that wasn’t a pre-conference situation,” Huggins said.

“We did that in South Dakota this year, but the difference is the other teams were doing the same thing. We’re being asked to play three in six days, and it’s tough.”

It’s West Virginia’s first game since last Saturday — a double-overtime loss to Oklahoma — after COVID-19 issues within the Baylor program caused two games in the past week to be further postponed.

Now, the Mountaineers return to the court nearing the final push for positioning as the regular season draws to a close and the Big 12 Tournament nears. They face a conference heavyweight in the Longhorns (13-5, 7-4 Big 12), who currently sit a step ahead of WVU in the conference standings.

The two teams last met in Morgantown on Jan. 9, with Texas earning the 72-70 after a last-second 3-point shot from guard Andrew Jones fell through the net with fewer than two seconds remaining in the game.

Guard Courtney Ramey led the way for the Longhorns that day, scoring 19 points.

Jones finished with 16, and the duo has been pushing the team forward for most of the season.

“They’re playing about the same way,” Huggins said.

“I think that (Texas coach) Shaka (Smart)’s got seemingly a lot more confidence in his bench. He’s playing his bench more than he did at that point in time, but I think we all are.”

Jones is the Longhorns’ leader on offense, possessing a strong 15.9 points per game and ranking seventh in the conference in scoring. Three others — Ramey, as well as guard Matt Coleman and forward Greg Brown — enter the weekend sitting above the 10-point plateau.

Led by Brown, who is averaging 7.5 rebounds per game, the Longhorns also lead the conference in offensive rebounding. West Virginia sits second.

The Mountaineers will look to counter with a strong performance from guard Taz Sherman, who scored 17 against Texas earlier this season. He’s dealt with lingering injury issues as of late, scoring only five points in his last game action.


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