Mess with Texas? Not on this night
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There were a bunch of people in the WVU Coliseum on Monday night.
There was Oprah Winfrey. There was Justin Bieber. Miley Cyrus checked in. All - or at least cutouts of their heads - were in the Mountaineer student section.
What wasn't there Monday: WVU.
The WVU defense wasn't there.
The WVU shooting wasn't there.
The WVU rebounding wasn't there.
It all added up to a Texas-sized whipping, courtesy of the visiting Longhorns. The final score of 80-69 was not indicative of the rout, which, at 6:22 of the second half, reached 21 points.
By then many of the 8,706 in attendance had streamed out as if, well, Miley Cyrus was really there.
The Mountaineers' performance was brutal. They were outrebounded 49-30. They hit 4 of 25 (16 percent) 3-point attempts.
Perhaps it could have been predicted. Any who watched WVU on Saturday against Oklahoma State knew the Mountaineers expended a bunch of energy in their heartbreaking loss. Still, West Virginia had yet another chance to prove the Coliseum is a tough nut to crack, a tough venue for visitors.
Again, it did not. So afterward I went to a trio of Mountaineer players. I asked a simple question: How would you describe what happened Monday on the Coliseum court?
Eron Harris, who looked sharp early stepping into shots before finishing with a mere six points, pondered the question. There was a long pause. Finally, this is what he said:
"I don't know, man. A bunch of lapses. A bunch. Outmanned."
Terry Henderson, who had 16 points, but on 7-of-17 shooting, was equally short.
"Outmanned," he said. "I feel like we were getting bullied. That's all I can say about that."
"Texas came in here and wanted it more than us," he said. "Killed us on the glass."
Longhorn center Cameron Ridley certainly did with 12 points and 12 rebounds. But all of the Texas big men feasted. After halftime, when Remi Dibo and Staten put together a little run, there was Connor Lammert with a momentum-shattering dunk.
It was as if Texas went to Lowe's, found the paint - and left WVU there trying to buy a bucket.
Staten, who actually had a very nice game with 23 points, suggested afterward the Mountaineers rely a bit too much on the 3-point shot. They tried 25 on Monday. They've taken 355 this season for an average of 20.9 per game.
"I don't know," said WVU coach Bob Huggins. "When you're 4 for 25, obviously. But I don't know if they'd have stepped inside the [3-point arc] it would have been any better. We were shooting short."
Later, he added the team isn't guarding as well as it has in the past. It isn't rebounding as well as it has. It has to shoot well.
"Everybody saw what happened [Monday]," Staten said. "We didn't rebound. We didn't guard."
Toss in the poor shooting and you have a big uh-oh.
"I don't think I'd go into any [game with WVU] expecting this," said Texas coach Rick Barnes.
One can't help but wonder how much Jonathan Holton and/or Elijah Macon would have meant to WVU's inside game this season. But neither will be playing. And now the Mountaineers look nearly doomed.
Here's the remaining schedule: at Kansas State, Texas Tech, at Oklahoma State, at Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, at Kansas, Iowa State, at Texas, Baylor, at Iowa State, TCU, at Oklahoma and Kansas. See more than two sure-fire wins in there?
As Flo would say, these are troubling times in the kingdom.
"Coach told us after the game either we're going to go, keep going, or give up," Harris said. "If anyone believes it's the end of the world right now, they're wrong."
Maybe Harris is correct. But, at the very least, they're looking straight at a wrecking ball.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.