Jan. 10, 2013
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Alex Hubbard, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Texas Men's Basketball team welcomed Big 12 newcomer West Virginia to the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday night knowing to expect a close game. After all, the three previous matchups between the two schools had been decided by a total of five points.
The two teams had not played since the 2005-06 season, when UT defeated West Virginia once in the regular season and once in the NCAA Tournament. On Nov. 21, 2005, No. 2 Texas defeated No. 13 West Virginia by a 76-75 count in a Guardians Classic game in Kansas City. UT forward LaMarcus Aldridge made a putback with 3.6 seconds left and then blocked a last-second shot attempt by West Virginia to preserve the victory.
The rematch came later that season in the "Sweet 16" of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns won 74-71 on a Kenton Paulino 3-pointer as time expired.
In similar fashion, Wednesday night's overtime contest went down to the wire and featured some big shots from both teams. In a game with four lead changes and three ties, UT led by just three points at halftime, 24-21.
Trailing 50-47 with just 5.9 seconds remaining in regulation, Texas inbounded the basketball under the West Virginia basket. After receiving the inbounds pass in the corner, sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game and send the contest into overtime. Although West Virginia went on to win 57-53, Holmes said the shot gave the team added confidence heading into the extra period.
"I thought we were going to win in overtime. I never thought we were going to lose after that," Holmes said.
UT head coach Rick Barnes expects close games against West Virginia for the foreseeable future, especially with Bob Huggins coaching the Mountaineers.
"I've always had great respect for Bobby's teams," Barnes said. "They are going to play hard. We knew it was going to be one of those games. West Virginia hung around. You have to give them credit. They made winning plays at the end."
The next meeting between the two schools on the hardcourt is set for Feb. 4 in Morgantown in an ESPN "Big Monday" showdown. Now that UT and West Virginia will play at least twice a year, fans should look forward to more opportunities to see close games with big shots.