- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas was handling West Virginia’s pressure defense with ease and all Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins could do was take note of who wasn’t on the court to see the problem.

Guard Jaysean Paige, West Virginia’s leading scorer, was on the bench nursing an injured ankle. Guard Daxter Miles didn’t even make the trip because of a hamstring injury.

Without them, the 10th-ranked Mountaineers could do little to stop the Longhorns as Isaiah Taylor scored 23 points and Eric Davis added 15 to send No. 24 Texas to an 85-78 victory Tuesday night.

“Pressure is not going to bother many people when two of my guards are out,” Huggins said.

Tarik Phillip scored 19 points for West Virginia (20-6, 9-4), which dropped one game behind No. 2 Kansas in the Big 12.

Davis made four 3-pointers in the first half and Texas (17-9, 8-5 Big 12) had 10 in the game in capping a regular-season sweep of the Mountaineers. Texas broke a two-game losing streak.

Texas coach Shaka Smart had implored his team to show more emotion heading in a tough, late-season gauntlet against four ranked opponents in six games. Davis responded with arguably his best half of the season after scoring seven total points in the previous four games.

“Swagger is basically energy, that’s all it is,” Davis said. “Isaiah has been a great teammate, telling me I’d be needed down the stretch. It’s target practice when you’ve got a great guard like him.”

Paige, who averages 14.0 points per game, got hurt early in the first half and never returned. Texas turned the ball over just seven times and Taylor had seven assists.

“What was deflating was Jaysean on the bench with his ankle on ice. He’s been as good as anybody in the league the last few weeks,” Huggins said.

West Virginia, which trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half, pulled within 77-71 on a three-point play by Jonathan Holton with 38 seconds left. Texas put the game away with eight consecutive free throws. The Longhorns made 25 of 30 free throws.

The win is another big result on the NCAA Tournament resume of first-year coach Smart, who still hasn’t lost three straight with the Longhorns. Texas is 5-3 against ranked opponents this season and three of its last five games will come against No. 25 Baylor, Kansas and No. 3 Oklahoma.

West Virginia attacked Texas ballhandlers early and produced three quick turnovers in the opening minutes that fueled a 12-4 Mountaineers lead. But once Texas cleaned up the sloppy play, the Longhorns quickly fought back before Davis took over the last 6 minutes of the first half with a slew of 3-pointers. Davis made three as the teams traded seven straight 3-pointers and his fourth pushed the Longhorns to a 45-36 halftime lead.

“That was huge,” Smart said. “It won us the game.”

The Longhorns kept up the barrage in the second half. Connor Lammert’s 3-pointer followed by a three-point play by Taylor quickly pushed Texas to a 12-point lead in the opening minutes.

Even when Texas’ scoring slowed down, the Mountaineers couldn’t make the run they needed to rally. After shooting 63 percent in the first half, West Virginia tapered off badly in the second and struggled from the free throw line.

And Texas kept handling the West Virginia press to perfection. Taylor’s off-balance alley-oop pass to Prince Ibeh for a dunk finished off a three-pass sequence that sliced through the Mountaineers and put the Longhorns up 65-52.

TIP-INS

West Virginia: The Mountaineers started Teyvon Myers in place of Miles. Myers came in averaging just 2.2 points and finished with six points, one assist and no steals.

Texas: The Longhorns are keeping watch on their own injured lineup. Smart said this week that center Cam Ridley still hasn’t been cleared to put his full weight on a surgically repaired bone in his right foot, putting his return before the postseason in doubt.

PUTTING IN THE WORK

Smart said Davis sulked after he had a poor game in a loss to Iowa State. He didn’t baby his freshman.

“He was really down. I told him, ‘You’ve got to get in the gym, man. You’ve got to work on your game … This isn’t high school where it’s easy.’”

UP NEXT

West Virginia plays at No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday

Texas hosts No. 25 Baylor on Saturday

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