by Jim Buzzerd
For the second time this season the West Virginia University Men’s Basketball Team rallied from a 19-point second half deficit to win a Big 12 game on the road. It happened in Stillwater, Oklahoma back on January 4 in an 87-84 win over the Cowboys. It happened again last Saturday at Texas in an 84-82 win over the Longhorns. West Virginia also came back from a 19-point second half deficit at Oklahoma on January 2 to tie the Sooners a few times late in the game, but couldn’t forge ahead in a 75-71 loss.
West Virginia trailed 53-43 at halftime in Austin Saturday and at that point the deficit didn’t seem so bad considering the Longhorns shot 70% from the field in that half. That included a 7 of 12 effort from beyond the arc.
In the first 1:48 of the second half Texas hit three straight 3-pointers to assume a 62-43 advantage. Depending on who you listen to the WVU comeback was fueled by several factors. One factor that ABC analyst Fran Fraschilla pointed to several times was the sideline altercation between Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones during a time out.
Sean McNeil hit a three pointer to bring the Mountaineers to a 64-50 deficit at the 16:07 mark. During the subsequent media timeout Ramey was seen trying to get into Jones’ face as teammates separated them. The tiff was presumably due to Ramey’s displeasure with Jones’ effort on guarding McNeil’s three-point shot. Texas was not the same after that.
“Absolutely, it had an effect on the game,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “Are those guys OK? They’re not OK with what happened. They’re not OK with losing.”
WVU coach Bob Huggins pointed to other things including some choice words for his team at halftime after watching the defensive effort permit Texas to make 21 of 30 shots.
“I don’t think you’d want to print what was said at halftime,” Huggins said. “It had to do with the work we’ve put in and why don’t we do what we’re taught to do? It was about our enthusiasm to get it done and our ability to help one another.”
West Virginia has recently started to switch from man-to-man defense to a matchup zone defense. That zone seemed to help Saturday. “We’ve been spending time on matchup for a while here,” Huggins said. “It’s personnel driven like a lot of things are.”
From Austin, WVU bussed to Fort Worth for Tuesday’s game at TCU and will remain in the Lone Star State for Thursday’s make up game with Baylor. As of Monday evening the game time for Thursday is 5 p.m. The game will be on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. ESPN2 is scheduled to show Saturday’s WVU-Kansas State game Saturday at 4 p.m.