The Texas men’s basketball team got off to one of the best starts in the country this season. When UT defeated then-No. 14 West Virginia in Morgantown on Jan. 9 a last-second 3-pointer by Andrew Jones, the Longhorns were 10-1 (4-0 in the Big 12) and were ranked No. 4 in the country. They looked like the clear choice for the second-best team in the Big 12 behind Baylor and were popular picks to grab a one- or two-seed in the NCAA tournament.
Since then, however, the Longhorns have gone just 3-4, including a three-game losing streak, with four games being postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. Despite UT’s struggles over the past month, WVU coach Bob Huggins said they are more or less the same team that the Mountaineers lost to earlier in the season.
“They’re playing about the same way,” Huggins said Friday morning. “I think [Texas coach] Shaka [Smart]’s got 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.”
Texas is still led by Jones, a junior guard, who leads the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game. He is averaging 21.3 points over the team’s last four games while shooting over 60% from the floor.
Behind Jones are two more upperclassmen, senior Matt Coleman III and junior Cortney Ramey, as well as freshman Greg Brown. Coleman averaged 13.2 points per game and leads the team while 69 assists, while Ramey averages 12.7 points. Brown averaged 11.5 points and also leads the team in rebounding, averaging 7.5 per game.
The Mountaineers and Longhorns will tip-off for the second time this season Saturday at 3 p.m. EST in Austin, Texas. That game will be the first of three WVU will play in the Lonestar State over the next week.
With the state suffering from the effects of a winter storm in recent days, Huggins said Saturday’s game has had a “wait and see” feeling if it will be played or not.
“There’s a lot of concerns about a lot of things,” Huggins said. “We’re taking guys out of class for a week…Certainly, the weather is a concern. Travel is a concern. Playing three games in six days and riding three and a half hours on a bus between games is a concern.”
West Virginia is scheduled to play at No. 12 Texas on Saturday in Austin, at TCU on Tuesday in Fort Worth and at Baylor on Thursday in Waco. Huggins said the road trip will be a real challenge for the Mountaineers.
“Baylor seems a long way away,” Huggins continued. “We’ve got to play a very good Texas team then we’re going to turn around and play a team that [TCU coach] Jamie [Dixon] has done a terrific job with. And then we get on a bus a drive to Waco, it’s not ideal.”