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Short-handed West Virginia starts new year off the wrong way in 74-59 loss to No. 17 Texas

The new year did not start how West Virginia pictured it would, as the short-handed Mountaineers turned the ball over 20 times, in West Virginia’s 74-59 loss to No. 17 Texas on Saturday afternoon.

West Virginia (11-2, 0-1 Big 12) knew they were going to be short-handed as before the game it was announced leading scorer Taz Sherman along with Gabe Osabuohien and Kobe Johnson. Sherman came in averaging 20.9 points per game, and in the first half you could see his presence being missed as well as Osabuohien being missed on the defensive end. The Mountaineers shot 32% from the field in the first half and had 12 first half turnovers, as they struggled to find any rhythm in the first half.

Texas (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) jumped out to a 5-0 lead, after Courtney Ramey hit a three-pointer, followed by a step back jumper from the right elbow. West Virginia responded with a three-pointer of their own from Jalen Bridges, with an Isaiah Cottrell jumper and a Sean McNeil three-pointer, to tie things up at 8-8.

Texas took a 12-10 lead after West Virginia could not capitalize on turnovers. Kedrian Johnson had a pair of steals, but the Mountaineers were unable to get anything off as Pauly Paulicap traveled on one possession and then then Johnson and Dimon Carrigan were unable to connect on a lob.

Texas took a 19-14 lead off the backs of Ramey and their defense. Reamey hit a corner three-pointer, followed by a baseline jumper, to put Texas ahead 19-14. The Texas defense forced West Virginia to start 6-of-18 from the field to start, with the Mountaineers trying to overcome the absence of Sherman.

Texas continued to build on its lead, as they took a 26-16 lead with 3:56 remaining in the first half. Texas’ Marcus Carr hit a three-pointer, and then a Tre Mitchell jumpsuit as the shot clock put Texas ahead 24-16. A Cottrell airball and WVU 30-second violation, helped Texas build their lead.

Texas closed out the half on a 15-4 run. Texas’ Carr made a layup and was fouled, Andrew Jones hit a three-pointer and Ramey hit his third three-pointer of the half, taking a 39-20 lead into the half.

The second half did not get off to the start West Virginia envisioned. McNeil made a reverse layup on the opening possession, but then the Mountaineers could not secure a rebound, leading to a foul, a pair of made free throws, and then turned the ball over trying to get it in bounds, giving Texas a layup and putting the Longhorns ahead 43-22.

Bridges was able to get going for the Mountaineers as he hit a three-pointer and then a transition dunk, but the Mountaineer momentum was halted as Bridges was whistled for a technical foul, putting Texas ahead 48-27.

It was more of the same for the Texas defense, as they were able to limit West Virginia’s offense and score the ball on their own. As the shot clock was expiring, Jones threw up a three-pointer, but Carrigan was called for the foul and made all three free throws, putting Texas ahead 51-27 with 15:32 left in the second half.

After two more free throws and a fast break layup, West Virginia’s Carrigan hit a layup before a Bridges three-pointer forcing a Texas timeout with the Longhorns leading 55-32.

West Virginia’s offense was able to pick things up, going on a 14-10 run, but still trailed 65-46 with 7:49 remaining in the half.

Curry was able to find his footing offensively in the second half. After missing all four of his shots in the first half, Curry scored 14 in the second half. Bridges matched his season high, scoring 18 points, including going 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

The Mountaineers shot 42.3% from the field in the game, turned the ball over 20 times, while forcing 12 Texas turnovers, but were only able to 9 points off of those turnovers.

This was the most points West Virginia gave up in a game since they gave up 77 on Nov. 26 to Eastern Kentucky.

West Virginia will return to home to face Kansas State on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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