So much for any momentum West Virginia had after upsetting Kansas in the regular-season finale. And so much for any ill-effects Texas may have suffered by losing four of its last six regular-season games.
Texas came out smoking hot, and West Virginia barely showed up as the Longhorns destroyed the Mountaineers 66-49 on Thursday night in the final quarterfinal of the Big 12 tournament at Sprint Center.
Third-seeded Texas, 23-9, advanced to a semifinal at 8:30 Friday night against seventh seed Baylor, which beat Oklahoma 78-73 in the other Thursday night game. The Longhorns swept the regular-season series against Baylor.
This one was almost too easy for Texas, which jumped to a 12-0 lead and led by as many as 30 midway through the second half.
“The first half I thought we were defensively as good as we’ve been in a while, and offensively it gave us a chance to get out in the open court,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes.
West Virginia, 17-15, missed its first eight shots against Texas’ zone and was just two for 20 in falling behind 21-4. The Mountaineers made just four of their first 25 shots and were guilty of two shot-clock violations, while Texas made 10 of first 18 shots from the field.
The Longhorns reached the semifinals for the fifth time in the last 10 years, while the NIT-bound Mountaineers are 0-2 in the Big 12 Tournament since joining the conference in 2012-13.
“I certainly didn’t see it coming,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose team made just 20 of 66 shots from the field, including six of 20 from three-point range. “I thought we had three enthusiastic days of practice. When you rely on jump shots, and you don’t make jump shots, it becomes extremely difficult.”
Getting off to the hot start was important to Texas, which was 22 of 45 from the floor, including seven of 17 three pointers.
“Lately we’ve been coming out second-guessing ourselves and coming out not aggressive,” said guard Javan Felix, who scored 16 points. “We wanted to be aggressive and attack from the beginning, and it carried over throughout the game.”
Although Texas had swept West Virginia during the regular season, the Mountaineers certainly had the Longhorns’ attention after beating Kansas.
“Our league is very competitive,” said Texas forward Jonathan Holmes, who scored 20 points on seven-of-eight shooting. “Anyone can beat anyone on any given night. We knew they were capable of doing it. We didn’t want it to happen to us tonight.”
This game got so out of hand that Texas even scored on a four-point play when Martez Walker was fouled by West Virginia’s Juwan Staten on a made three-point shot. Walker made the free throw, giving the Longhorns a 27-8 lead with 6:38 to play in the first half.
West Virginia, which came into the game with the Big 12’s leading scorer in Staten (18.4 points per game) threatened the tournament records for fewest points in both a half and in a Big 12 tournament game.
Texas led 35-14 at halftime, so West Virginia barely avoided breaking the tournament record for fewest points in a half, 12, scored by Oklahoma in 2003 against Missouri.
At least the Mountaineers were spared the ignominy of scoring the fewest points in a game, a record low of 35 by Colorado in 2000 against Texas, when Gary Browne made a three-pointer.
The Longhorns went up by 30 points when Holmes drained a three-pointer midway through the second half for a 54-24 lead.
Even when the Longhorns missed, the Mountaineers messed up. When Texas’ Demarcus Holland missed the front end of a one-and-one in the second half, West Virginia was called for a lane violation, and Holland then made both free throws for a 56-28 lead.
Staten, meanwhile, scored just four points on one-of-11 shooting, matching his season low against Loyola last Dec. 2 when he played just 28 minutes. And forward Devin Williams, who scored 22 points with 13 rebounds against Kansas? He scored two points with three rebounds.