MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s grind continues.
The Mountaineers will host their third top-25 opponent in five games on Saturday when the No. 7 Texas Longhorns line up at the WVU Coliseum. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. ET on ESPN.
West Virginia has some confidence after earning its first Big 12 win of the season over No. 14 TCU. In addition to snapping a painful streak to open the conference schedule, it supported the notion that the Mountaineers can compete in the toughest league in the country.
“We’ve got a really good group of guys,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “We just– I mean quite frankly, we screwed up the first part of the schedule. Think about the ones we could’ve, should’ve won, think about where we’d be today.”
Four of West Virginia’s five Big 12 losses have come by single digits, and two were decided in overtime.
The Longhorns have had similar results, but with much better fortune, earning four wins in six games, all of which Texas has won by 10 points or fewer. They are riding this success despite some historic adversity for the program after head coach Chris Beard was dismissed in December, paving the way for interim coach Rodney Terry.
The Texas offense is grooving, leading the league at a clip of 80.7 points per game, armed with some of the Big 12’s best shooters, like Marcus Carr.
“They can really make shots, so we’ve got to guard them. We’ve got to do a better job guarding, but I thought we did a pretty good job guarding the other night. If we guard the way we guarded the other night, it makes it a lot harder to score.”
WVU pestered TCU on Wednesday at the Coliseum, holding the Horned Frogs to 65 points and forcing 19 turnovers. The Mountaineers’ physicality led TCU coach Jamie Dixon to say the competition “wasn’t a basketball game, it was a different game.”
That strong defensive performance coincided with an efficient showing on offense, which could indicate that WVU’s pieces, many of which are transfers, are falling in line with a month and a half left in the regular season.
“I think we are just now getting to the point where everybody’s on the same page,” Huggins said. “It’s hard, it’s a heck of a lot harder than what people think it is.”
Tre Mitchell is one of those additions, and he will line up against his former team on Saturday. The senior forward played one season for Beard at Texas, making 24 appearances and averaging 8.7 points and 4.0 per game.
Mitchell has made a massive step since coming to Morgantown, leading WVU with 13.2 points while grabbing 5.8 boards.
“I think Tre said it best, Tre said he’s never been more comfortable,” Huggins said. “If he had known that West Virginia was as good a place as it is and people were as nice and kind as what people are here, he would have been here from the beginning.”
Tip-off between the Longhorns and the Mountaineers is set for 6 p.m. ET, and it will be shown on ESPN. Before game time, get geared up for the matchup with a live edition of Mountaineer GameDay, airing at 10 a.m. ET on affiliated Nexstar stations.