Austin, TX – On the final day of the regular season, it took an extra five minutes to crown a winner. Turning in their best shooting performance of 2017-18 season, the Texas Longhorns converted on more opportunities and sent the hometown crowd home happy with an 87-79 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Despite the Longhorns having one of their best first half shooting performances of the entire season (14-fo-23 FG, 7-for-12 3FG), the Mountaineers held a two-point leading heading into the half. West Virginia’s infamous press defense and active hands in the half court resulted in 10 Texas turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play (15 points off turnovers).
Texas settled into a groove over the course of the second half as they began to really push the pace of the game and making better decisions with the ball. Jericho Sims shined in the second half and overtime period finding space in the lane for his teammates to set him up for easy opportunities at the rim – he ended the game with a career high 17 points.
A streaky shooter from outside throughout the season, Dylan Osetkowski was locked in from behind-the-arch on Saturday scoring all baskets from behind the line (5-for-7). With Sims playing extended minutes in place of the injured Mohamed Bamba, Osetkowski spent much of his time outside of the painted region. Although he is an elite passer with his back to the basket, Osetkowski showed the ability to pass off the dribble as well.
Since taking over much of the ball handling responsibilities midway through the season, Kerwin Roach II has proven that he is much more than an off-ball shooter. Roach has excelled as a playmaker in the Texas offense finding teammates off the dribble in highly efficient situations. His aggressiveness on the dribble-drive has added another dimension to his game and opened lanes for shooters on the wing – he finished the game with 22 points and eight assists.
The Mountaineers were plagued with foul trouble for most of Saturday’s game (26 total fouls) which made it difficult for any lineup to get into a groove on either side of the court. However, West Virginia’s bench came to play scoring 34 points. Although dominating the paint for the first 30 minutes of the game, West Virginia could not convert inside late in the game or in OT to pull out a victory on the road. The Mountaineers finished with five players scoring in double figures.
Senior guard Jevon Carter became the single season assist record holder for the Mountaineers on Saturday (201 assists). The clear leader of this West Virginia team, Carter came up big late in the game with key baskets and solid decision making. Carter finished with 12 points and six assists.
Despite missing a contested shot at the rim to take the lead late in the game, Sagaba Konate was a force to be reckoned on the block throughout Saturday’s contest. With Texas missing their star big man Bamba on the inside, Konate showcased a bevy of post moves resulting in 14 points on the day. His ability to get quality positioning makes him a dangerous threat on the inside – especially against smaller / less experienced defenders.
Both Texas (18-13) and West Virginia (22-9) will compete in the Big 12 Tournament that begins this coming Wednesday, March 7.
This article was written by Justin Ullestad, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout certification program. For information contact us and forward your resume.