That’s exactly what the Mountaineers did.
After shooting at a high rate for much of the season, West Virginia couldn’t find its shot in a 80-69 loss to the Longhorns. WVU shot just 38 percent from the field and only hit four of its 25 3-point attempts – much lower than its 8.2 per game average heading into the contest.
"It drains your energy," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins of his team's missed shots. "We had a good practice yesterday. We had a good walkthrough today. We just didn’t make any shots. When you don’t make any shots, you put your heads down. We didn’t make any, and they made some."
The Longhorns’ size in the paint and zone defense rattled West Virginia, specifically in the first half. In the second half, when the Mountaineers could’ve turned it around, they couldn’t stop Texas from scoring. UT hit 53 percent of its shots.
An 18-4 run to end the first half gave Texas (14-4, 3-2 Big 12 Conference) a commanding lead – one it would take the rest of the way with little trouble from WVU (10-8, 2-3).
WVU was led by junior point guard Juwan Staten, who had a game-high 23 points. Even he seemed to be off his game, however, not scoring as efficiently in the paint like he has in most games this season.
"Everybody goes through slumps. We've just got to push through it," Staten said. "Texas just wanted it more than us ... There are going to be games where we don't shoot the ball well, but you can still defend the ball well. You can still give great effort on the class. That's just something we didn't do tonight."
Sophomore guard Terry Henderson had 16 points, nine coming early on in the first half when the game was competitive.
Sophomore guard Eron Harris, the Big 12’s second-leading scorer, was 3-of-11 from the field, 0-of-7 from three and finished with just six points. He fouled out with 1:03 to play. The last time he finished with six points was against Oklahoma State on Feb. 23, 2012.
"He’s not making shots. He didn’t make shots in practice either," Huggins said.
Harris said: "We're not going to give up and lay down. If somebody believes it's the end of the world right now, then they're wrong ... I miss shot after shot after shot after shot after shot and never got going. That's the most frustrating thing in the world ... I tried to stay level emotionally and kept shooting my shot, because I know I can hit shots."
Texas swarmed West Virginia with a balanced offensive attack led by point guard Javan Felix who had 19 points. Three other Longhorns finished in double figures.
Texas finished with 18 turnovers but that only led to 16 WVU points. The Longhorns also nearly doubled up the Mountaineers on the boards – a troubling statistic considering it was a major weakness for WVU throughout the first two months of the season yet looked to be improving prior to this game.
West Virginia didn’t play well in the first half. It could only manage to shoot 33.3 percent from the field and struggled outside of the first four minutes of the game with gaining any points in the paint or offensive rhythm. Texas hit 50 percent of its shots.
"It comes down to heart. If you say you're going to stop your man ... if you say you're going to get the rebound, you've got to do it," Henderson said. "When it comes down to crunch time, you've got to do it."
The game stayed within three points until a dunk from forward Connor Lammert to give Texas a 23-18 advantage. After West Virginia tied the game up at 23, the Longhorns went on an 18-4 run to end the half to take a 41-27 lead after the first 20 minutes. Through the final 7:15 of the first half, the Mountaineers managed just four points.
Harris picked up his second foul with 11:11 to play in the first half, and he sat most of the rest of the half. WVU was down just two points when he headed to the bench, and it seemed to fall apart after that for the Mountaineers.
*We had Eron and Terry on the bench. That’s how it all started. Eron had two fouls and Terry said he was tired," Huggins said. "We don’t score very good when those guys are on the bench."
WVU didn’t make a legitimate layup in the first half. It had two layups off of offensive rebounds. It was outscored 22-10 in the lane in the first half, as Texas just dominated with its inside size.
"If you're not hitting your shots, you have to play defense and rebound," Henderson said. "We've got to start scoring it close, too. We weren't playing our type of game today."
WVU struggled out of the gate in the second half to allow Texas to increase its lead to 19 at 48-29. The Mountaineers would show some life soon after, as a 7-0 run allowed the crowd to get back into the game. That wouldn’t last, as the Longhorns would make it a 57-38 game with 12:24 to play forcing a West Virginia timeout.
UT took its biggest lead of the game at 20 with about 10 minutes to play. WVU would keep a faint hope alive with a three from freshman forward Nathan Adrian – the Mountaineers first made three in 16 tries – to make it 59-45 and force the Longhorns to call a timeout with 9:17 to play.
Texas would assume control of the game after this and cruise to victory, as Mountaineer fans started to exit the Coliseum with more than six minutes to play.
WVU junior forward Remi Dibo scored 10 points including two threes - the only player on the Mountaineers' roster to hit more than one in the game.