KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jonathan Holmes scored 20 points, Javan Felix added 16 and third-seeded Texas rolled past cold-shooting West Virginia 66-49 on Thursday night to reach the Big 12 tournament semifinals.
The Longhorns (23-9) will play seventh-seeded Baylor on Friday night. The Bears held on after blowing most of a 21-point lead to beat No. 2 seed Oklahoma 78-73 earlier in the night.
The outcome was never in doubt after the game was a few minutes old. Texas raced to a 21-4 lead, built a 20-point cushion late in the first half, and even pressed its advantage past 30 by midway through the second half before coasting the final few minutes.
The sixth-seeded Mountaineers (17-15) likely had their faint NCAA tournament hopes dashed by the miserable night on offense. They shot just 30 percent from the field.
Brandon Watkins led the way with eight points for West Virginia, but Juwan Staten — the Big 12’s top scorer — was held to four points on 1-for-11 shooting, and Eron Harris — the league’s third-leading scorer — had three points on 1-for-5 shooting.
Both players spent most of the second half on the bench, Staten after twisting his right ankle and Harris after picking up his fourth foul. He eventually picked up No. 5, too.
Given the way the Mountaineers finished the regular season, with a 92-86 victory over No. 10 Kansas — a game in which everything they threw to toward the rim seemed to hit nothing but nylon — the way they performed Thursday night left just about everyone perplexed.
Nobody more than coach Bob Huggins.
The Mountaineers had missed 18 of their first 20 shots and allowed Texas to cruise to a 21-4 lead before Huggins suddenly sprang from his seat on the bench and yelled across the floor to his team, “Can we run something, please?”
Staten promptly clanked a jumper off the rim. Not exactly what Huggins had in mind.
West Virginia only had two field goals until the 8:50 mark of the first half, when Harris and Staten scored on back-to-back possessions to make it 21-8. But the Longhorns promptly rattled off the next eight points, a brutally efficient response to any notion of a comeback.
The Mountaineers wound up shooting 18 percent in the first half (6 of 33). Their starting five of Staten, Harris, Remi Dibo, Devin Williams and Nathan Adrian combined to go 2 for 22.
The game was so lopsided by the time the second half began that only a few thousand fans still dotted the seats of the Sprint Center, which had been rocking earlier in the day for down-to-the-wire games involving Kansas, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State.
As if things weren’t bad enough for West Virginia, Staten landed awkwardly on an out-of-control leap toward the basket in the second half. He proceeded to limp straight up the tunnel to the locker room and didn’t return to the bench for several minutes.
He never returned to the game, but it also didn’t matter.
The Longhorns pushed their lead to 30 on a 3-pointer by Holmes with 9 1/2 minutes to play, and all the Mountaineers could do the rest of the way was try to salvage some dignity.
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