West Virginia falls in OT to Texas in regular-season finale
AUSTIN, Texas — Their season fading and their big man still on the bench with a sprained toe, the Texas Longhorns were in desperate need of a big win to bolster their NCAA Tournament hopes.
They got it Saturday with an 87-79 overtime win over No. 20 West Virginia, spurred by guards Matt Coleman and Kerwin Roach II and a barrage of 3-pointers.
“We knew we were really going to have to fight,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “We also knew there was a ton on the line. We made that point ... By the way, it's not over.”
West Virginia led 48-42 early in the second half before Texas ripped off a 15-2 run keyed by a pair of 3-pointers from Dylan Osetkowski, who made five in the game. The Mountaineers forced overtime on Jevon Carter's driving reverse layup with 1.6 seconds left in regulation.
Lamont West scored 15 points for West Virginia (22-9, 11-7), which had five players score in double figures.
The Mountaineers had already at least a tie for second place in the Big 12 and could have clinched the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament with a win. West Virginia's press defense was effective in the first half but did little to disrupt Texas in the second half and overtime. The Longhorns had five turnovers in the first five minutes, then just four the rest of the game. The Mountaineers' inability to cover the 3-pointer kept Texas in the game early and proved especially costly in overtime.
“I have backed off of this team practice-wise more than maybe any team I've ever coached. It's probably a terrible mistake,” Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said. “You hear so much about ‘They gotta have legs.' We can't shoot anyway when we do have legs. What difference does it make?”
Roach and Coleman each scored 22 points, and Jericho Sims added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Longhorns.
Texas (18-13, 8-10 Big 12) has struggled to gain traction or play with consistency in Smart's third season. Missing the NCAA Tournament — Texas still isn't guaranteed an at-large bid — would be a major blow to a program that finished last in the Big 12 last season.
“It would hurt a lot, especially after not making it last year. We have to play every game like it's our last,” Roach said.
The worst offensive team in the Big 12 found an offensive symmetry Saturday it has lacked nearly all season. The Longhorns shot 57 percent and made 11-3 pointers, including two by Coleman and Jacob Young in the overtime.
“We can compete with anybody regardless of who we have on the team,” Roach said.
Coleman put Texas up 76-74 with a 3-pointer from the right corner and made a short jumper before Young's 3 pointer stretched the lead to seven and the Longhorns held on the rest of the way.
The Mountaineers dominated the Longhorns under the basket when these teams met back in January, a 35-point WVU victory
“West Virginia is a team that if you don't stay connected, they can take your will from you,” Smart said. “We had that happen to us a month ago.”
Next up for the Mountaineers is the Big 12 Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Kansas City.