The second top 12 opponent since Saturday afternoon will see Texas basketball try to pull off a really big upset against West Virginia on Jan. 20.
A near upset win for the Texas basketball program at home at the Frank Erwin Center on Jan. 18 against the Kansas Jayhawks didn’t play into the hands of the men in burnt orange when it was all said and done. Head coach Shaka Smart saw his team fall short against head coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks by the final score of 66-57.
But the Texas Longhorns basketball program held tough with No. 5 ranked Kansas most of the way. They just couldn’t close out the win, which is becoming a more and more common narrative under Smart’s direction with this program. The Longhorns have now lost four of their last seven games.
If Texas was able to beat the Jayhawks over the weekend at home on the Forty Acres, it would’ve been the first three-game winning streak for this program in Big 12 play in more than three years. But Texas now has to move on and focus on the next challenge that lies ahead, against the No. 12 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers on Jan. 20.
This is the first time that the Longhorns will battle the Mountaineers this season. Texas will carry their 12-5 (2-3 Big 12) record into this showdown against West Virginia looking to keep their name in the ring among NCAA Tournament single-digit seed contenders for the remainder of the regular season.
Meanwhile, West Virginia comes in with a record of 14-3 (3-2 Big 12). Texas can even up the record in the Big 12 between these two teams with a Monday evening win. The game will be hosted at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, and tips off at 6 p.m. CT.
According to the ESPN Basketball Power Index, West Virginia has better than an 87 percent chance to beat the Longhorns on Jan. 20. West Virginia also comes in before tip-off as a nine-point favorite over the Longhorns.
A key matchup exists between Texas and West Virginia with freshman sensation big man Oscar Tshiebwe against junior center Jericho Sims. So far this season, Tshiebwe is averaging 11.6 points per game, 9.4 rebounds, and 0.4 assists, while shooting 60.7 percent from the field. But he is also averaging 1.4 blocks per game and 2.1 turnovers. There’s still a lot of volatility in Tshiebwe’s game.
Sims is averaging 9.7 points per game, 8.2 rebounds, and 0.9 assists. with a 23.4 player efficiency rating and 2.4 win shares. He could be a stalwart for Tshiebwe if he is to come back strong from an injury that sent him back to the locker room over the weekend against Kansas.
West Virginia has a bright future in front of them under the lead of the dynamic freshman duo of Tshiebwe and guard Miles McBride. So far this season, McBride is averaging 10.2 points per game, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, while shooting 42.1 percent from the field and 39.0 percent from three-point range.
Texas has a tall task on their hands to try and hang with the Mountaineers. But the Longhorns have a suffocating defense, and just need to hold on stronger in the second half. This will by no means be an easy test, though, as the Longhorns take on their second straight top 15 opponent in the last three days.