WVU basketball: Mountaineers drop Longhorns in overtime
AUSTIN, Texas -- There were stories to be written about West Virginia's offense and questions to be asked about how things could get worse after 36 minutes at the Erwin Center Wednesday night.
One of the worst shooting teams in college basketball was having one of its worst nights against a Texas team that happened to lead the NCAA in field-goal percentage defense and 3-point percentage defense.
And then that awful offensive team scored 13 straight points, a stunning rally keyed by scores from unlikely sources to lead by three points in the final seconds en route to a 57-53 overtime victory.
The Mountaineers were going to win at Texas, something a team had never done in the first 14 Big 12 openers here, but a defensive letdown allowed the Longhorns to force overtime when Jonathan Holmes tied the score 50-50 with a 3 from the right corner with three seconds left.
The momentum had changed quickly once more for the Mountaineers, but their fortunes would not.
They survived four missed free throws to start overtime and a fruitless 106-second, four-shot possession to escape before a crowd of 9,873.
"I'm proud of our guys," Coach Bob Huggins said. "We had opportunities to pack it in and we didn't when we got down (13) points and we were having a hard time scoring. Hopefully this kind of gets us back to being my kind of team."
WVU's points in overtime came on a putback and two free throws by Aaric Murray and three free throws from Gary Browne. He went 1-for-2 with 16 seconds to go in overtime and Murray clinched the game with a steal and two foul shots.
After nearly losing despite holding a 16-point lead against Eastern Kentucky and losing after leading Oklahoma by 12 in the past two games, WVU came back from 13 points down with 8:37 to go to win in their first Big 12 road game.
"The difference was I think everyone played hard, even if the ball went in, didn't go in, the refs called bad calls or good calls, we made a good shot or a bad shot, whatever," said forward Deniz Kilicli, who came off the bench for the first time this season and scored eight points. "Everyone played hard and when you play hard, this is what happens."
Murray had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in 26 minutes off the bench and Jabarie Hinds had 11 points, six rebounds and a critical 3. Kevin Noreen had five points and 13 rebounds.
WVU outrebounded Texas 45-39 and had 11 steals to win despite just five assists and 30.6 percent shooting from the field.
The Longhorns were led by 12 points from Holmes and 11 points from Javan Felix. They shot 30.3 percent in the second half.
"I think as a coach when you look out and see the opponent obviously wants the game more than you do, that's the most frustrating thing," Texas Coach Rick Barnes said.
It didn't look good for WVU in the second half, though. Hinds turned the ball over on the baseline and Connor Lammert's short jumper and free throw put Texas ahead 42-29, its largest lead of the game.
The lead was down to eight points when WVU freshman Terry Henderson, the team's best 3-point shooter, found a spot at the top of the key and waited on a pass.
He got it and went to shoot, but lost the ball. Texas scored on the other end to make it 47-37.
The Mountaineers made their first 3 of the game with 3:14 remaining when Noreen snapped the team's 0-of-14 rut with a make from the right side.
The Longhorns missed a shot and turned the ball over after grabbing the rebound. After a timeout, Murray scored inside to make it 47-42. The Longhorns missed again and Hinds, who was 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the game and 8-for-38 all season, swished one from up top.
Browne then read a pass, stole the ball and scored while fouled to tie the score with 1:26 to go. The team's top free-throw shooter missed his free throw, though.
The Longhorns got stuck against WVU's zone defense and missed a tough shot close and turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. The Mountaineers called timeout and freshman Eron Harris, who minutes earlier missed a breakout layup, made a 3 from the right side with 16.4 seconds to go.
"He's a big moment shooter," said Noreen, who started for the third time in 43 games and was paired in the starting lineup with Dominique Rutledge, who started for the first time in 37 career games.
Felix missed a quick shot inside, but Texas kept the rebound after it went out of bounds. The ball was played in from the baseline on the right side, but WVU let Holmes get open in the right corner and take the easiest available pass for a game-tying 3.
The Mountaineers (8-6, 1-1 Big 12) entered the game ranked No. 306 among the NCAA's 345 teams in field-goal percentage (39.7 percent) and No. 318 in 3-point shooting (28.7). They were below both against the Longhorns (8-7, 1-1). WVU finished 19-for-62 from the floor and 3-for-20 from 3-point range. Texas entered allowing just 33.9 percent shooting and 23.8 percent on 3-pointers and just 60.2 points per game.
"I don't know if this team is ever going to be a great shooting team," Huggins said. "I hope we can become a good shooting team. But we can become a great rebounding team. That's what we can do and that's what our focus needs to be."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.