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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 13, 9:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sprint Center (18,927) -- Kansas City, Missouri. Television: Big 12 Network, ESPN3.com. Home Record: WVU 11-5, Texas 16-2. Away Record: WVU 3-8, Texas 5-6. Neutral Record: WVU 3-1, Texas 1-1. Conference Record: WVU 9-9, Texas 11-7. Series Record: Texas leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: The quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament will wrap up on Thursday night at the Sprint Center, as the sixth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers square off against the third-seeded Texas Longhorns.
WVU is heading into this event on the upswing having won two of its last three games, including its best win of the season last Saturday versus nationally- ranked Kansas, 92-86. The Mountaineers finished the regular season 9-9 in Big 12 action and sit at 17-14 overall.
Meanwhile, Texas has been sliding in recent weeks with losses in four of six, most recently dropping its regular-season finale at Texas Tech, 59-53. Despite their recent struggles, the Longhorns are still in the midst of an impressive season at 22-9 overall, and at 11-7 in the league earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament by winning the tiebreaker with Iowa State.
Texas dismissed WVU in both previous meetings this season by a combined 28 points to take a 4-3 lead in the all-time series.
WVU built a lead as large as 25 over Kansas its last time out and held on for the six-point win down the stretch. The squad was able to combat a 41-point explosion by KU's Andrew Wiggins with three 20-point scorers itself, paced by Eron Harris' 28 points on 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Juwan Staten shot 14- of-20 from the free-throw line for 24 points while also finding time to hand out nine assists, while Devin Williams tallied a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
On the season, the Mountaineers have an outstanding offensive attack with 78.5 ppg on 44.3 percent field goal shooting (including 38.6 percent from beyond the arc), which has successfully masked a disappointing scoring defense (73.5 ppg). Staten is one of the nation's most well-rounded guards with 18.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 5.9 apg, while shooting 49.2 percent from the field. Harris (17.9 ppg) is right on Staten's tail for the scoring lead, Terry Henderson pitches in 11.8 ppg and Williams mans the paint with 8.8 ppg and 7.3 rpg.
Texas appeared in good shape to capture a victory in its most recent game up by six with under eight minutes to play, but Texas Tech took control by finishing the game on a 20-8 run. The team shot a mere 35.1 percent from the field on the afternoon, including 4-of-18 from 3-point range. Martez Walker was impressive in 19 minutes off the bench with 13 points, while Cameron Ridley was the only other player in double figures with 12 points.
The Longhorns are able to successfully outpace their opponents this season, scoring 74.5 ppg while yielding 70.2 ppg despite shooting a mere 43.1 percent from the field. The team has an imposing frontcourt duo in Jonathan Holmes (13.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg) and Ridley (11.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.2 bpg), who both shoot greater than 51 percent from the field. Isaiah Taylor (12.6 ppg, .392 FG percentage), and Javan Felix (12.0 ppg, .354) have not been so efficient from the backcourt.
Although these teams were heading in opposite directions heading into the tournament, Texas clearly had WVU's number this season and should be able to regain its momentum in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas 79, West Virginia 73
03/13 11:16:40 ET
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