AUSTIN, Texas (AP)Sir’Jabari Rice kept making shots, and the Texas guard wasn’t shy about celebrating.
”Talks a lot,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said of Rice.
Huggins’ team could do nothing to prevent Rice from scoring or letting the Mountaineers know about it en route to his season-best 24 points in just 17 minutes as No. 5 Texas defeated West Virginia 94-60 Saturday.
”I was just being competitive,” said Rice, a guard who transferred from New Mexico State.
Thanks largely to him, Texas (20-5) remained in first place in the Big 12 at 9-3, while West Virginia (15-10, 4-8) lost for the sixth time in its last seven games against the Longhorns.
Rice was nearly perfect: He converted 5 of 6 field-goal attempts, including 4 of 5 3-pointers and all 10 free throws. The Longhorns only missed one free throw in 25 attempts and hit 10 of 17 3-pointers.
Marcus Carr added 16 for Texas, making 7 of 11 shots and contributing four assists and three steals. Timmy Allen had 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists – and passed the 2,000-point mark for his five-year career (2,013 points in 144 games).
Emmitt Matthews Jr. led West Virginia with 13 points. The Mountaineers shot 35.2%, which is their second-worst accuracy of the season, and matched the most turnovers of the season with 20.
Texas scored 32 points off West Virginia’s turnovers and had a 23-7 edge in fast-break points in 144 games.
Matthews, who had a season-best 20 points against Iowa State on Wednesday, scored nine of West Virginia’s first 12. But the Mountaineers failed to take advantage of that start.
They committed 13 turnovers in the half, matching their average per game, and Texas led 51-30 at the break.
The Longhorns went 16-for-16 at the free-throw line in the first half, matching the most they’ve ever made in a half without missing.
Fouls calls and free throws were about even for the two teams, but Huggins said Texas was the most physical opponent the Mountaineers have faced this season.
”I don’t think we were prepared for the physicality … I think that bothered us,” Huggins said.
Allen said the Longhorns always want to play that way.
”That’s our mindset,” Allen said. ”Be physical when we guard. Be physical on rebounds.”
Interim coach Rodney Terry suggested the Longhorns lacked that toughness during a loss at Kansas on Monday.
”You have to be willing to do the dirty work,” Terry said. ”You have to be willing to have some grit.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers hit a wall after arriving in Austin with some momentum. They won five of their previous seven games after losing five straight in January. Their next opponent is No. 14 Baylor, which will be their third game in six days. They beat No. 11 Iowa State on Wednesday in Morgantown.
Texas: The Longhorns have not lost two in a row this season, giving them their best record through 25 games since 2010-11, when they were 22-3. That team had three first-round NBA draft picks – and high hopes – but faded late in the season and lost to Arizona in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
BIG MONDAY AGAIN
The Longhorns seem to be monopolizing ESPN’s Big Monday telecasts. Their upcoming game at Texas Tech is the third week in a row they appear on that telecast.
So far, they are 1-1 after the quick Saturday-to-Monday turnaround, beating Baylor in Austin and losing at Kansas.
Terry said he doesn’t mind having only one day between games, saying ”it does prepare you for postseason play” – only with the addition of travel between matchups.
West Virginia: At No. 14 Baylor on Monday.
Texas: At Texas Tech on Monday.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25