Feb 11, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns interim head coach Rodney Terry and players react after a timeout is called during the first half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Moody Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports ac

Dominant first half, Rice’s 24 points lead No. 5 Texas to 94-60 rout of West Virginia

No. 5 Texas 94, West Virginia 60 

The fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns improved to 9-3 in Big 12 play with Saturday’s 94-60 home blowout win over West Virginia. The Longhorns have now won four straight in the head-to-head series and stayed a full game ahead of the rest of the conference heading into the final three weeks of conference play. 

Sir’Jabari Rice led the way with 24 points off the bench for Texas, while Marcus Carr added 16 and Timmy Allen had 14. The Longhorns forced 20 West Virginia turnovers, taking advantage time and time again of the sloppy Mountaineers. Texas turned the ball over only six times and made 24 consecutive free throws before finally missing in the game’s final minutes. The 34-point margin of victory was the Longhorns’ largest this season in conference play. 

Texas shot the basketball well all night, finishing with 10 made 3-pointers in just 17 attempts. 

West Virginia (15-10, 4-8 Big 12) entered Saturday’s game playing well, winners of four out of five since losing their first meeting versus Texas back on Jan. 21 in Morgantown. For Texas, Saturday’s game was an opportunity to get back on the right track after Monday night’s loss on the road at No. 9 Kansas. 

The visiting Mountaineers started the afternoon hot, jumping out to an 8-4 lead as each team tested the other’s physicality, and West Virginia made its first two 3-pointers. West Virginia began the day 5-for-7 from the field overall, led by Emmitt Matthews Jr.’s nine early points. But after Sir’Jabari Rice’s 3-pointer moved Texas ahead 13-12 with just under 14 minutes left in the first half, the Horns never looked back. By the first half’s under-12 media timeout, West Virginia had already turned the basketball over five times. 

When Sir’Jabari Rice’s second-straight made 3-pointer extended the Longhorns’ first half run to 12-2 and made it 20-14 Texas, the pajama-clad 11 a.m. crowd in Austin began to feel like an avalanche of noise to the Mountaineers. The run didn’t stop there – Texas extended its run to 21-5 after four straight made free throws, punishing the Mountaineers with physical defense and extending the lead to 29-17 at the under-8 media timeout. Through the first 12 minutes, Texas turned the ball over only once compared to seven for the Mountaineers. 

On Arterio Morris’ second 3-pointer of the game for the Horns with five minutes left, Texas extended its game-high lead to 41-23 with 4:29 to go. Overall, Texas made five of its first six 3-pointers and 10 consecutive free throws to start the game. 

West Virginia’s first half struggles were only made worse with 2:26 to go in the first half when leading scorer Erik Stevenson picked up his third foul of the afternoon, forcing him to the bench and sending Sir’Jabari Rice to the line for two more free throws. West Virginia’s 12th turnover of the first half followed, and its foul trouble worsened when sophomore Mohamed Wague picked up his third foul. Rice then made another two free throws for the Horns, giving him 11 points in the half and extending Texas’ lead to 20. 

Sir’Jabari Rice’s dunk as the first half ended put an exclamation point on a dominant half for both himself and his team. Rice jogged into the locker room with 14 points to his name despite playing only seven minutes, and Texas led 51-30 behind excellent shooting and overwhelming defensive pressure. The Longhorns finished the half 16-for-16 at the free throw line, made five of seven threes, and forced 13 Mountaineer turnovers. Texas transfer Tre Mitchell struggled mightily for West Virginia in the first half, committing five turnovers while scoring only two points.

After trailing at halftime in eight of their previous 11 games, Saturday’s first half was a breath of fresh air for Rodney Terry’s team. 

Despite one of its best offensive first halves of the season, Texas came out ice cold to start the second half. The Longhorns failed to score for the first three and a half minutes after halftime and watched their 21-point lead shrink to 17. 

It wouldn’t be long though before Sir’Jabari Rice fixed the Longhorns’ early second half malaise on his own. Rice scored five straight points, including drilling his third 3-pointer, to extend the Horns’ lead back to 56-34 with just under 16 minutes remaining. 

Rice’s next 3-pointer made him 4-for-5 on the day, and two more free throws gave him 24 points and extended the game-high Texas lead to 65-37 with 12 minutes remaining. 

Texas’ dominance continued as the second half wore on. The Longhorns extended their lead to another game-high Marcus Carr’s 3-pointer with 4:45 to go, giving them an eye-popping 80-45 advantage. The Horns’ largest lead of the game came at the 3:03 mark, a 37-point advantage.

The 94-60 win was Texas’ largest Big 12 win since 2010 and made a huge statement for a team that still believes it can earn a No. 1 seed in next month’s NCAA tournament. 

The Longhorns (20-5, 9-3 Big 12) will head to Lubbock for a battle with Texas Tech Monday night. 

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