AUSTIN, Texas–West Virginia University’s basketball team is coming off a blowout win over the top-ranked Baylor Bears on Tuesday. Now the 10th-ranked Mountaineers travel to Texas to battle the Longhorns at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
WVU (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) has used its smothering pressure defense to wear down opponents all season. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, they are constantly in opponents’ face.
The Mountaineers forced Baylor to turn the ball over a season-high 29 times. WVU has forced more turnovers (394) than its opponents have made field goals (337) this season.
The Mountaineers lead the country in scoring margin (28.3), turnover margin (13,9), turnovers forced (24.3) and steals (12.9).
Against the Bears, Jevon Carter (10.9 points per game) had five steals. The junior leads the Big 12 in steals and is third in the nation.
Senior Nathan Adrian (10.7 points, 6.5 rebounds) scored a career-high 22 points against Baylor. He is second in the conference in offensive rebounds.
Brandon Watkins is expected to make his sixth start of the season. The senior is shooting 68.9 percent from the field.
Texas (7-9, 1-3) will be without leading scorer Tevin Mack (14.8 points) who was suspended indefinitely on Thursday for a violation of team rules.
The Longhorns started the season ranked but have struggled out of the gate and have lost four of their last five. Four of Texas’ last five losses have been by five points or less, including a 64-61 loss to TCU on Wednesday, which was the Horned Frogs’ first victory in Austin in 30 years.
Without Mack, knocking off WVU becomes a tougher task for the Longhorns.
Texas will turn to guard Kerwin Roach Jr. (11.3 points) and forward Jarrett Allen (11.2 points, 7.7 rebounds) for its offensive production.
The Longhorns have had a lot of success against the Mountaineers over the years, holding an 8-4 series edge. Texas has won five of the last six meetings between the two schools, including both meetings last season.
Since joining the conference, WVU is 3-6 against the Longhorns but the Mountaineers will look to change that fate this go.
Tipoff is at 4 p.m. and is televised on ESPN2.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS