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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – Devin Williams didn’t back down after taking a shot to the nose and a forearm to the chin on separate occasions in the first half against Texas.
Williams finished with 14 points and was a big reason No. 20 West Virginia’s inside game showed up this time against Texas in the Mountaineers’ 71-64 win over the Longhorns on Tuesday night.
Two weeks ago the Mountaineers were downtrodden after three losses in four games. Now they’ve won three straight.
“We’re just going to try to ride the wave, man,” Williams said.
Daxter Miles Jr. and Jonathan Holton added 12 points apiece for West Virginia (22-6, 10-5 Big 12), which ended a four-game losing streak to the Longhorns (17-11, 6-9).
West Virginia finally figured out a way to outfox the bigger, more physical Longhorns. The Mountaineers scored 28 points in the paint — 14 more than in a 77-50 loss to Texas last month in Austin, Texas.
“We had a lot of patience,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “Devin played really well. He rebounded and scored in traffic. We got it to him in the middle of the floor and he collapsed on them. He made a lot of good passes in the post.”
Demarcus Holland scored 14 points and Isaiah Taylor added 13 for Texas, which couldn’t overcome an 18-point first-half deficit and lost its third straight.
Texas did trim an 11-point halftime deficit to 40-38 on a free throw by Prince Ibeh with 13:36 left but never retook the lead.
After surrendering a 13-4 run to start the second half, West Virginia went to a rare zone defense, which then limited Texas to two field goals over a 10-minute span.
“We wanted to make Texas pass it more and slow it down,” Huggins said. “They were just coming right at us. We needed to change the rhythm.”
Williams said he couldn’t even name the type of zone defense West Virginia used.
“I just know my area to defend,” he said with a laugh. “Huggs said some of the great teams he’s had in the past could adjust on the fly. And in this game in particular, we adjusted on the fly.”
West Virginia’s offense got better, too. Jevon Carter, Miles and Holton made 3-pointers during a 13-2 run for a 53-40 lead with 8 minutes left.
Texas plugged along with free throws until making one furious push in the final minute.
Holland scored off a rebound and made a 3-pointer 15 seconds apart to pull Texas within 67-64 with 27 seconds left.
After a timeout, Carter made a layup on a 2-on-1 rush and Gary Browne made two free throws for the final margin.
The Mountaineers had 14 points in the paint — 4 apiece from Holton and Williams — over the first 9 minutes and led 33-15 late in the first half.
Texas had 12 first-half turnovers and finished with 17. The Longhorns had only 15 shot attempts in the first half but made 11 of them (73 percent).
“You can win a lot of games shooting how we did tonight, but we committed too many turnovers and we did it at the wrong time,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes.
Texas had four blocked shots to set a single-season record with 207, breaking the mark of 206 set last year.
West Virginia made 16 of 18 free throws in the second half.
Jonathan Holmes of Texas was ejected after hitting Williams with a forearm late in the first half. Holmes, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds in the earlier meeting between the teams, finished with six points.
“He can’t do that,” Barnes said. “Devin set a screen and he reacted the wrong way. He actually went into the WVU locker room and apologized. He knows he was in the wrong.”
Tuesday wasn’t all work for West Virginia. The Mountaineers gave 5-year-old Nicholas Wince a day to remember.
The left side of the boy’s heart is underdeveloped, complicating the heart’s ability to pump oxygenated blood out to the body. The congenital condition affects one in 4,300 babies.
Huggins signed Nicholas to a “letter of intent” at an afternoon ceremony and joined the team in their pregame huddle.
The young lad’s favorite player? Williams.
“That’s what little Nick told me to do,” Huggins said. “Throw it to the guy with the goggles.”
Texas: Plays at No. 8 Kansas on Saturday.
West Virginia: Plays at No. 19 Baylor on Saturday.
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