West Virginia

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Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

After facing tough opponents back-to-back all season, Texas women’s tennis might get their first break this weekend.

Texas defeated its only unranked opponent this season, Yale, early last week 4–0 and will travel north to try and continue that success against Iowa State and West Virginia.

No. 32 Texas is 2–2 in conference play, including a significant win in the Big 12 kick-starter game against then-No. 23 Oklahoma. The Sooners are the only team that Texas has defeated on the road so far this season.

Friday, the Horns will travel to Iowa to face the Cyclones, who are also 2–2 in the conference. Iowa State is coming off a hard-fought win (4–3) against Kansas State and has multiple conference victories for the first time in four years.

Iowa State junior Alejandra Galvis is 10–2 in dual singles matches this season, including a current seven-game win streak that she’ll look to continue against Texas. Galvis will most likely face-off against Texas junior No. 47 Breaunna Addison, who is 3–2 at No. 1 in singles.

Sunday morning, the Horns will play the Mountaineers in West Virginia. The two teams have met twice before, and both meetings ended in victory for Texas. West Virginia is 0–3 against Big 12 opponents so far this season, including a loss to Iowa State.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

For nearly 38 minutes Sunday, Texas led West Virginia. The Longhorns had a 14-point margin with seven minutes remaining in the second half — and then quickly saw their command of the game vanish.

West Virginia converted 7-of-11 shots in the final seven minutes of the second half to force the game into overtime. In overtime, the Mountaineers captured its first lead since the opening minutes and scored 15 points to push West Virginia to a 76–69 victory.

“I thought it got away from us in several ways,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “We missed some critical free throws that could have separated us. We couldn’t find any flow.”

Missed shots and turnovers played a critical role in Texas’ blown lead. For the first 36 minutes, Texas shot 50 percent from the field, but the Longhorns went 2-for-11 in the remaining nine minutes of the game, including overtime. The team had a total of 17 turnovers.

The defeat snaps Texas’ (19–9, 8–9 Big 12) four-game win streak, its longest since starting the season 13—0. This was the first overtime game for Texas since late January, which was a double overtime victory against rival Oklahoma.

In all the areas where Texas did well, the Mountaineers found just as much success. Texas had four players surpass the double-digit mark, as did West Virginia. But West Virginia made the most of its chances in the paint, scoring 32 points. Texas shot 71 percent from the charity stripe, but West Virginia made 21 of its 24 free-throw chances.

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford came off the bench to pick up a double-double with 19 points and 12 boards.

Texas dropped to sixth place in the Big 12 with one game remaining in the regular season. The team will look to bounce back quickly for Senior Night at 7 p.m. Tuesday against TCU.

After spending seven weeks ranked 10th or better in AP rankings, the men’s basketball team is on the brink of missing the NCAA tournament. Before Tuesday’s loss to No. 20 West Virginia, bracketology expert Joe Lunardi had Texas entering the tournament as a No. 9 seed but said there were no guarantees that they would make the tournament. After Tuesday’s loss, Lunardi has the Longhorns as one of the last four teams to make the NCAA tournament.  Even if the men’s team had won Tuesday night, Lunardi said the Longhorns would still have some work to do. Lunardi predicted that the Longhorns would go at least .500 for the rest of their games and just sneak into the tourney. But with the loss to No. 8 Kansas and No. 20 West Virginia, Texas needs to win their final two games against No. 19 Baylor and Kansas State.
Obviously, the men can ill afford to lose. But with Kansas State’s recent upset of Kansas, Lunardi says the Longhorn’s final game against the Wildcats could potentially be a bubble game for both teams. In a perfect world, the Longhorns end their four-game losing streak with a two-game winning streak and finish 9-9 in conference play. Anything short of that places the Longhorns below .500, which means if they were admitted into the NCAA tourney, they would be just the second Big 12 team to go to the Big Dance with a losing conference record.
While things have been less than stellar for the men’s team, the women’s team seems to be headed in the right direction.  As of Feb. 23, bracketology expert Charlie Creme had the women’s team entering the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed before splitting the week’s games. Similar to the men’s team, the Lady Longhorns spent 11 weeks ranked at least tenth in AP rankings and even spent five weeks ranked third. But the team hasn’t been the same since senior forward Nneka Enemkpali suffered a torn ACL on Jan. 19 in a loss to Baylor. Since her injury, the Lady Longhorns are 5-5. They had lost four of the first five games following the season-ending injury before turning things around with a four-game winning streak.  Since Enemkpali’s injury, junior center Imani McGee-Stafford has averaged 11.4 points per game. Prior to the injury, McGee-Stafford averaged 3.75 points per game.

Sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor and the Texas guards struggled with turnovers in Morgantown, West Virginia, as the Mountaineers used a full-court press. Taylor had four of the Longhorns’ 17 turnovers.
Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ tailspin continued Tuesday night after No. 20 West Virginia held on to its early big lead for a 71–64 victory. It’s the third loss in a row for a slumping Texas team — now 6–9 record in Big 12 play — that is confirming its status as a bubble team for the NCAA tournament.

West Virginia (22–6, 10–5 Big 12) overwhelmed Texas’ ball handlers with a relentless full-court press that set the tone early. Using an 11-man-deep bench, the Mountaineers were able to keep the pressure on Texas’ thin corps of ball handlers and force them into 17 turnovers.

The constant pressure got the Mountaineers off to a blistering start, as it looked as if they were going to run the Longhorns out of Morgantown. They opened an 18-point first-half lead, converting turnovers into easy points and forcing their way into the paint against the Texas zone.

But Texas wasn’t going to give in that easily.

Sparked by sophomore guard Kendal Yancy’s corner three, Texas began the uphill battle. The Longhorns scored in four-straight possessions, cut the deficit to 10 and were right back in it. They took advantage of their low 15-shot first-half total, making 73 percent from the field.

But then frustration boiled over for struggling senior forward Jonathan Holmes. In the waning seconds of the first half, West Virginia forward Devin Williams set an illegal screen that went uncalled as he checked Holmes in the back. Holmes retaliated, swinging his elbow and catching Williams in the face. Holmes was given a flagrant two and ejected from the game as Texas entered halftime trailing by 11.

“I thought our effort was really good,” Huggins said after the first half. “I thought our patience was really good on offense.”

The start of the second half was a complete reverse of the first as Texas cut the double-digit halftime lead to two in a hurry. They began to beat the press and find easy buckets, forcing West Virginia into a 1-3-1 zone defense.

But that’s as close as Texas would get. West Virginia opened it back up quickly, going on a 13–2 run of their own. On multiple occasions, Texas cut into the lead, putting pressure on West Virginia, but, ultimately, the hill proved too steep to climb.

Junior guard Demarcus Holland came off the bench to lead Texas with 14 points, and sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor added 13 points and six assists. However, each committed four turnovers.

Coming off a 29-point performance, Yancy was a quiet 4-for-8 with 9 points.

The Longhorns’ path doesn’t get any easier either, as they go to the Phog for a road game against No. 8 Kansas on Saturday.

Senior forward Jonathan Holmes has struggled in the past three games after returning following a concussion.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

It was clear how frustrated senior forward Jonathan Holmes was with himself Saturday after his 2-point performance against No. 12 Iowa State. He stared straight down with his head in his hands as the media began to question him. His answers were short, soft, downtrodden and, at times, incomplete.

“I got to get better and improve and get back in rhythm,” Holmes, who has scored just 12 points in the month of February, said. “Stuff just is not going in right now. Just got to get back to the basics.”

Since going down with a concussion Feb. 4 against Oklahoma State, Holmes hasn’t been himself. In the three games since his return, he’s shot just 21 percent in significant time on the court, attempted just four free throws and has struggled from behind the arc shooting only 34 percent. 

Before his injury, Holmes was averaging 11.5 points per game in 27.1 minutes per game. Since returning, he’s averaged 26.3 minutes per game but has only scored 4 points per game. 

“I just talked to Jon and said, ‘you work too hard to not believe in yourself right now,’” head coach Rick Barnes said. “You hate it for him because he’s worked as hard as anybody we’ve ever had here.”

But the Holmes of late is different from the Holmes who led the Longhorns to win the Wounded Warriors 2k Classic in New York City back in November. That Jonathan Holmes was excited, confident and playing the best basketball of his career.

He scored 19 against Iowa. Then he followed that up with 21 points and 13 rebounds against Cal to take home the tournament MVP award. Holmes thought the team had solved all of their problems.

“Everyone bought in,” Holmes said after the tournament, giddy about the first time Texas won any kind of tournament in his tenure. “Everyone wanted to be a part of the solution. We want to build something special.”

But now, sitting at 6–8 in Big 12 play, Holmes and the Longhorns aren’t looking at a solution but at a new problem. Texas is sitting on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, with few signature wins.

“I know that everybody at this time of the year wants to talk about that,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t matter. People talk. I promise you, there are like 100 teams on the bubble.”

Texas’ top wins are a home win against then-ranked No. 23 West Virginia and a neutral site win against Iowa, who sits in seventh place in the Big Ten. These aren’t leaving many people impressed.

With only four games left, the Longhorns have to take themselves off the bubble and prove they belong in the NCAA Tournament. They will travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, and Lawrence, Kansas, this week to face a pair of top-25 teams. Then they will close out the regular season against No. 19 Baylor and Kansas State at home before the Big 12 tournament. Winning two of those should be enough to get them in.

“We have some chances coming up the next couple of weeks to get some quality wins,” Holmes said.

But in order to do that, they will need their lone scholarship senior to return to form.

“Right now we need some leadership, obviously, and it should come from our older guys.” Barnes said. Your older guys this time of the year have to play.”

This final stretch begins Tuesday, when Texas will face No. 20 West Virginia at 6 p.m. in Morgantown. The game will air on ESPN2.

“We just have to find a way,” sophomore guard Kendal Yancy said. “I personally think we’ll figure it out. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have a quick turnaround against West Virginia so we can get another road win.”

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Saturday’s matchup between Kansas and Texas in Lawrence could’ve been the deciding game in the Big 12. But after an abysmal 6-8 start in Big 12 play, Texas is no longer in play for the Big 12 title.

Despite Texas’ poor start, ESPN announced its “College GameDay” program will do a one-hour pregame show at Allen Fieldhouse before the afternoon contest.

The "College GameDay" crew will start the day with its morning show at Wichita State before making the trek to Lawrence.

This is the second time this year the "College GameDay" show will broadcast from a Big 12 venue.

 Two Big 12 point guards up for awards

Two Big 12 point guards became finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award on Friday. 

Iowa State sophomore Monté Morris and West Virginia senior Juwan Staten are two of 17 finalists for the award, which is given to the country’s top collegiate point guard.

Morris currently leads the nation with a 4.55 assist-to-turnover ratio, one year after setting an NCAA record with a 4.79 ratio. He also leads the Big 12 with 5.57 assists per game and is averaging 11.4 points per game.

Meanwhile, Staten has proven himself as a scorer with 13.5 points per game and 5.08 assists per game. His biggest moment this season came last week when he scored a last-second layup to lead the Mountaineers to a win over Kansas.

The winner of the Bob Cousy Award will be announced April 10.

 Staten, McKay win weekly conference awards

In addition to being named a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, Staten also took home the Big 12 Player of the Week award, which the conference announced Monday.

Staten averaged 21 points in the two wins this week for West Virginia — both against ranked opponents. He posted a 51.7 field-goal percentage and made 60 percent of his three-point attempts.

Iowa State  redshirt junior forward Jameel McKay took the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year award after helping the Cyclones win back-to-back conference road games for the first time since 2006. Against Oklahoma State, the junior forward posted 17 points and 14 rebounds. He then followed up with a nine-rebound, three-block performance in the win against the Longhorns on Saturday.

 Iowa State, West Virginia rise in AP Poll

Following big wins on Saturday, both Iowa State and West Virginia made gains in the latest AP rankings released Monday.

West Virginia tied for the most spots gained of any team in the poll, jumping up three positions to take the No. 20 spot after posting wins over Kansas and Oklahoma State. Iowa State moved up two positions to No. 12 after posting two-straight road victories against Oklahoma State and Texas.

Oklahoma State fell out of the rankings after back-to-back losses. Texas, meanwhile, received only one vote in the rankings.

For the first time since the start of Big 12 play, No. 20 Texas looked like a team worthy of all the preseason hype.
The Longhorns navigated No. 20 West Virginia’s high-pressure defense all game long en route to a 77-50 statement victory in front of their home fans. 
 The victory snapped an ugly two-game losing streak for the Longhorns, who were embarrassed at home against Oklahoma on Jan. 5 and before falling to Oklahoma State in Stillwater five days later.
The biggest reason for Texas’ impressive bounce effort against West Virginia was the reemergence of junior center Cam Ridley. After scoring a combined seven points in the losses against the Sooners and Cowboys, Ridley erupted for a season-high 19 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes
“This week in practice we worked on different ways to get me involved in the game,” Ridley said. “I came into the game with the mindset that I’m going to do whatever I can to help my team, because I haven’t been doing that."
Ridley bullied the Mountaineer’s much smaller frontcourt on both sides of the ball converting on eight of his 10 shot attempts while blocking four shots. His ferocious block on freshman guard Jevon Carter’s lay-up attempt with over nine minutes remaining in the first half forced West Virginia to call a timeout and caused the fans to raise to their feet in applause. 
“Cam set a great tone for us early,” said head coach Rick Barnes. 
Senior forward Johnathan Holmes, who scored just four combined points on 2-of-19 shooting in Texas’ back-to-back losses, also rebounded nicely with 16 points and nine rebounds. His shooting struggles from the field continued, however, as he made just 2-of-6 attempts, but he converted on 11-of-12 free throw attempts to help lead Texas to its highest point total of conference play. 
“It was a good win,” Holmes said. “It’s a conference win. It’s big for us moving forward [to win] against a really good team.”
The Longhorns played perhaps their best defensive game of the season, holding West Virginia to nearly 29 points below its season average. Texas limited the Mountaineers to just 24.1 percent shooting, the lowest a Big 12 team has ever shot against Texas in the regular season. 
With the win, the Longhorns improved to 2-2 in conference play. They’ll look to begin their first winning streak of conference play on Monday when they travel to Fort Worth to take on TCU.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Shortly after the Longhorns defeated No. 23 West Virginia on Nov. 8, an Instagram video of head coach Charlie Strong surfing over and celebrating with his players
went viral.

The win was significant for a variety of reasons. It was Texas’ first home win over a ranked opponent since 2008 and its first multi-game win streak
under Strong.

Following the game, players were hesitant to call it a “signature win,” but nearly everyone acknowledged that it was a huge step towards what Strong was trying
to build.

Fast-forward two-and-a-half weeks, and the victory over West Virginia has lost a bit of its luster, as the Mountaineers have now dropped three games in a row.

The Longhorns, on the other hand, approach Senior Night bowl eligible, on a three game win streak and with an opportunity to cap off the regular season with a definitive signature win over No. 5 TCU.

“You look at it, and it’s the No. 5 team in the country, so we’re going to go out, going to go compete, and it would be good for the program — get us to [win] number seven,” Strong said.

A victory on Thanksgiving could drastically accelerate the trajectory of the program. It would also be further proof that the Longhorns did not quit after a 3-5 start to the season, giving Strong a monumental victory in Austin.

“I think it would really set the foundation of this program,” senior wide receiver John Harris said. “You get a win over a top-25 team, then you get a win over a top-5 team in the month of November; you’re basically undefeated with a four-game win streak. So I think it would be a huge momentum swing going into next year and especially going into the bowl game.”

The last time the Longhorns went undefeated in November was in 2009. Despite the struggles the senior class has faced, the group has worked to help change that trend for the future.

“I think we’re a prime example of sticking together through it all and continue to strive,” senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “We want to be the class to do great things and get this thing turned back around.” 

From 2000-09, they went 55-4 at home, only losing multiple contests in Austin in 2006. Texas lost five games at home in 2010 alone and dropped multiple home games in each of the last five seasons.

But if the Longhorns find a way to beat the Horned Frogs, the coaching staff knows people will generally forget the seniors’ struggles to protect Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

“We’ve just got to make sure our players understand this is a big game,” Strong said. It’s big, and I always look at it from the seniors’ standpoint in that it’s their last home game in the stadium, and we need to send them off the right way.”

Despite what is at stake for the opponent, the Longhorns insist the matchup is not so much about trying to ruin TCU’s season but rather just keep winning for their own sake.

“We are not going in with the mind-set [that] we [can] spoil their season,“ senior defensive end Cedric Reed said. “We are going in [with the mind-set] to beat TCU.”

A win would mean Texas’ second Senior Night victory in a row, after dropping three straight from 2010-12.

“We want to end the season right,” Reed said. “You know it’s [the last] home game for the seniors. We are going to give them everything we got.”

1) TCU

The Horned Frogs struggled in a surprising game at Kansas, but quarterback Trevone Boykin continues to show he deserves to be in the Heisman conversation. Their defense, which was supposed to be their strength, has been a bit disappointing. They aren’t bad by any means, but they aren’t superb. They allowed 30 points against Kansas, 61 at Baylor, 30 to West Virginia and 33 against Oklahoma. Fortunately for them, their offense is unstoppable.

2) Baylor

Only one team scores more than TCU, and that is Baylor. The Bears average 50 points per game. It doesn’t matter how bad your defense is when your offense is putting up those kind of numbers. They aren’t one dimensional on offense either. While their passing game is fourth in the country, their rushing attack is no slouch. They are averaging 239.5 yards per game on the ground.

3) Kansas State

After TCU steamrolled them in their biggest game of the year, the Wildcats bounced back to take care of West Virginia last week. Quarterback Jake Waters put up 400 yards through the air, further proof that he has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the Big 12. He has completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes just twice this season, while throwing for at least 223 yards in every game. Most importantly, he limits turnovers, throwing just five picks on 295 attempts.

4) Oklahoma

Head coach Bob Stoops is getting plenty of criticism in Norman, but overall, the Sooners aren’t that bad. They are 8-3, and two of those losses were by four points or less. Last week, true freshman Samaje Perine ran for an FBS record 427 yards. He’s the real deal, and with Joe Mixon, who will return from suspension next year, the Sooners will have the scariest backfield in the nation.

5) Texas

Its defense is for real. Since allowing 45 to Iowa State, the Longhorns have allowed less than 15 per contest. Their pass rush is getting to opposing quarterbacks, and their defensive backs are legit. The only thing holding them back is the inconsistency of the offense. Besides senior receiver John Harris, there isn’t a single player on the offense who has been consistent all year. 

6) West Virginia

After shooting up the rankings, the Mountaineers have quickly lost three straight. For the first time this year, they struggled on offense in the loss to Kansas State. All of sudden, they are sitting at 6-5 overall and just 4-4 in the Big 12.

7) Oklahoma State

My, oh, my, how the Cowboys have fallen. Remember when they were 5-1 and ranked No. 13? Since that time, they have lost five straight and will finish the season with games against Baylor and Oklahoma. It’s hard to be believe this team likely won’t be in a bowl game, but their offense has been terrible. Daxx Garman has 12 touchdowns and 12 picks behind one of the worst offensive lines in the Big 12.

8) Texas Tech

The Red Raiders’ defense might be the worst in the nation, and their offense isn’t very good. That’s a losing combination.

9) Iowa State

The Cyclones may not win a Big 12 game, but they stayed close with a few teams. The loss to Kansas really hurt Paul Rhoads’ bunch.

10) Kansas

The Jayhawks gave TCU a scare and won a Big 12 game. That’s a successful season, given the lack of talent within their roster.

Baylor, TCU and Kansas State each have one loss on the season and remain in competition for the Big 12 title.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

As the football season draws closer to an end, the Big 12 is winding down to three contenders.

Baylor, Kansas State and TCU are at the top of the conference standings, each having only a single conference loss, and, with only a few more weeks in the season, all three are competing for the top spot.

This past weekend, the Horned Frogs played a road game against Kansas in what was believed to be a fairly easy matchup for the highly ranked Frogs. However, TCU was forced to make a fourth-quarter comeback to keep its Big 12 hopes alive.

TCU was down 17-27 with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter before mounting a late rally, which would lead to a 34-30 victory.

The Frogs were the only one of the top-three teams to play last weekend, but, going forward, all three will face tough games to close out the season.

Kansas State will face West Virginia on Thursday in Morgantown, West Virginia, where both Baylor and TCU struggled in previous games. The Wildcats cannot get caught sleeping in one of the toughest environments in the Big 12.

The Horned Frogs will have a bye this weekend, along with the Longhorns, before their showdown on Thanksgiving night. The Longhorns have won three straight matches and could be trouble for TCU.

In addition, Baylor will be back in action Saturday, hosting Oklahoma State in Waco. Despite several key injuries that have translated into losses this season, the Cowboys are a formidable foe with the ability to create an upset for Baylor.

The road to the Big 12 title for Baylor will not be as difficult as many think, though. The Bears have two remaining home games and a game played against Texas Tech on a neutral field to end the season. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has a solid opportunity step up and get the job done for the Bears. 

The latest College Football Playoff rankings put TCU on top of the four leading teams in the nation. The Horned Frogs have played the toughest teams in the conference, only losing to Baylor by a field goal.

However, Baylor may have a shot to sneak past TCU if Kansas State can remain unbeaten this weekend at West Virginia. But, if the Bears can win against the Wildcats in early December, the momentum from beating another top-15 team may just be what it takes to put a Big 12 team into the College Football Playoff.