AUSTIN, Texas — The euphoria of blowing out a top-ranked team followed by a long trip west created one serious hangover for West Virginia.
The No. 10 Mountaineers shook it off just in time to avoid one of the bigger upsets of the Big 12 season so far.
Teyvon Myers scored 16 points and Jevon Carter scored 15 as West Virginia rallied to beat short-handed Texas 74-72 on Saturday.
“We gave them a day off after the Baylor game , I tried to talk to them right after the game to make sure we got ready,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We didn’t have any energy (against Texas). Nobody travels the way we travel. Your sleep patterns are all different.”
As the only Big 12 team in the Eastern time zone, the Mountaineers log more miles and hours on the road than anyone else in the league. Still, after a court-storming win against Baylor, few expected the Mountaineers to be in such a fight with a Texas team that has struggled all season.
Texas played without leading scorer Tevin Mack, who was suspended indefinitely this week for an unspecified violation of team rules. It was his second suspension of the season for the sophomore, who missed the first game for a rules violation during the offseason.
The Longhorns committed 19 turnovers against the Mountaineers’ “Press Virginia” defense but didn’t give them up in bunches and never allowed any West Virginia lead grow larger than eight points. Texas led 53-47 with 10 minutes left.
“Our guys showed a great deal of fight,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “The way our guys played for each other, played for Texas, is more closely what we want to be,” Smart said.
Carter’s two free throws with 21 seconds left gave West Virginia (15-2, 4-1) a four-point lead. Jarrett Allen scored 19 points for the Longhorns (7-10, 1-4) and his put-back basket with 1.1 seconds left gave Texas a final desperate chance. But after Myers missed two free throws, Allen’s final cross-court short never made it to the basket.
Andrew Jones scored 17 for Texas, but fouled with more than three minutes to play.
West Virginia: The win keeps the Mountaineers on pace near the top of the Big 12 behind league leader Kansas but the defense that has smothered opponents struggled to bottle up the Longhorns, who shot 50 percent in the second half. The Mountaineers particularly struggled to contain Texas’ frontcourt of Allen and Shaq Cleare, who combined to shoot 12 of 16 from the field.
Texas: The Longhorns proved they have some mettle even without Mack’s scoring, and his absence may have forced on-the-court cohesion that has rarely been on display this season. But the road only gets tougher from here. Texas has road games at Baylor and Kansas in the coming week and face the prospect of a long stay near the bottom of the Big 12.
Huggins earned career victory No. 806, tying him for ninth place in major college history with Eddie Sutton. He ranks third among active coaches behind Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim
“I had the good fortune of being able to coach against Eddie,” Huggins said. “If I sat and thought about it, which I don’t, it’s an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys.”
OH SO CLOSE
Five of Texas’ losses have been by three points or less, frustrating trend for a team that started the season ranked in the Top 25 with an entirely new starting lineup.
“Coach said in the locker room, `If we could do one less turnover or get one more stop, that would help a lot.’ We can feel each other pulling closer together more as a team,” Allen said.
West Virginia: Host Oklahoma on Wednesday. The Mountaineers are undefeated at home this season.
Texas: Travel to No. 1 Baylor on Tuesday. The Longhorns are winless on the road.