AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas coach Shaka Smart wants Matt Coleman to take control late in games. He is, after all, the Longhorns’ point guard.
Coleman assumed that role on Saturday with an assist and a 3-point basket in the final 2:01 to help Texas defeat West Virginia 61-54.
Coleman scored 17 points. He assisted on an alley-oop dunk by Jaxson Hayes with 2:01 remaining. Then, Coleman, with the shot clock about to expire, hit a step-back 3-pointer from the right corner to give Texas a 59-54 lead with 1:03 left.
Coleman had caught a pass from Dylan Osetkowski in a crowded foul lane and dribbled into the corner.
“I knew I had to get a shot up,” Coleman said. “Thank God it went in.”
Smart said that Coleman is better when he plays with a joy that allows him to be aggressive and confident. But Smart admits that he sometimes makes it difficult for Coleman to attain that state of mind.
“The fine line is that I’m on him all the time about details,” Smart said. “If you allow it as a player, that can take some joy away.”
Osetkowski scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a shot with 33 seconds left and Texas ahead by six.
“I thought he was the player of the game for us with the way he battled and fought,” Smart said. “Rebounds, big defensive possessions.”
Eli Mitrou-Long added 10 points for Texas (10-4), which has won five of its last six games and is 2-0 in the Big 12 for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
Derek Culver led West Virginia (8-6, 0-2) with 17 points and nine rebounds. James Bolden scored all 13 of his points in the second half.
Texas took an eight-point lead early in the second half with a 3-point basket by Osetkowski.
But before the Longhorns could get any ideas about pulling away, Bolden scored six straight for West Virginia.
Osetkowski gave Texas another eight-point edge with a 3-point basket with 8:47 left, and Bolden responded again, this time with five points.
The Mountaineers played their fifth straight game without injured Sagaba Konate, their top rebounder, shot-blocker and co-leader in scoring. He has a knee injury.
West Virginia misses the 6-foot-8 Konate guarding the basket, but the Mountaineers did make Texas work hard to complete passes and produce open shots.
“I thought our effort was OK,” Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said. “We had some breakdowns.”
West Virginia: Huggins is so disillusioned with what he considers the Mountaineers’ lack of commitment to improvement that he elected to start walk-on Taevon Horton, who had played a total of seven minutes in three games before Saturday. Huggins cited Horton as the first player to arrive for the first practice after West Virginia lost to Texas Tech on Wednesday in Morgantown. It was a symbolic gesture, though. Horton played just two minutes. Huggins also suspended reserve guard Brandon Knapper with no timetable for a return.
“Conduct unbecoming a West Virginia basketball player,” Huggins said.
Texas: The Longhorns caught some breaks in their first two Big 12 games. They won their opener 67-47 at Kansas State, which was missing injured starters Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes. Then West Virginia arrived in Austin without Konate, and Huggins announced that Knapper was suspended.
SIMS MISSES GAME
Forward Jericho Sims, a former starter for Texas, missed the game with a right ankle injury that he sustained in practice on Friday. Smart said the injury is a significant sprain and there is no timetable for his return. Sims started 11 of the Longhorns’ 14 games, struggling to average 5.4 points and 3.8 rebounds. Freshman Jaxson Hayes replaced Sims in the starting lineup the last three games.
West Virginia is at Kansas State on Wednesday. West Virginia won both games against Kansas State last season.
Texas is at Oklahoma State on Tuesday. The Longhorns and Cowboys split two games last season, each winning at home by the same score, 65-64.