Cowboys Rough Up The ’Eers
MORGANTOWN – Oklahoma State at times sped up the inevitable Saturday by blocking six shots in a fairly easy 73-57 victory against West Virginia.
While the block party was surely fun for the Cowboys, it probably wasn’t necessary. The way the Mountaineers shot in this bottom-falling-out performance, the chances were good – around 65 percent – those attempts weren’t going in anyway.
After all, West Virginia (13-14 overall, 6-8 Big 12) made only 34 percent of the shots it took that actually reached the goal.
What’s worse, half of those blocks came on 3-point attempts, where the Mountaineers made 4 of 21 (19 percent). Mix that in with 17 turnovers, including a pair of shot-clock violations, 11 layups, four dunks, and 20 made Cowboys free throws, and you have a disaster for West Virginia, and a going-away victory for No. 14 Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4).
”They’re long, but some of those were forced,” WVU’s Kevin Noreen said. ”We had some great looks but that comes down to practice and preparation.”
WVU coach Bob Huggins, who hasn’t had a losing team since 1981 when he was at Walsh College, didn’t pick out one thing in particular about this game.
”You can’t win many games not rebounding, you can’t win many games throwing the ball to them, there’s a myriad of things we could name,” he said.
The Mountaineers hung with Oklahoma State throughout a first half that was capped by a follow-up slam by Aaric Murray at the buzzer, as they trailed by two at 35-33.
In the second half, the wheels came off. Part of that was because OK State freshman sensation Marcus Smart, who averages 15 points per game (fourth in the Big 12) and can jump out of the gym, picked up three fouls in the first three minutes and sat the remainder of the first half. He returned for the entire second half, never committed another foul, and scored 14 points, one of five Cowboys to score in double figures. Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown each scored 16 points to lead the way.
It was a Nash dunk with 6:32 left that gave Oklahoma State its largest lead of the day, 65-47.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, had two double-digit scorers, as Murray and Matt Humphrey came off the bench to score 11 and 10, respectively, for a team that after 27 games, does not feature anyone who averages at least 10 points per game.
It was the fifth time this season West Virginia has lost-back-to back games with one three-game losing streak sprinkled in.
”The thing that we should be doing is getting hungrier from these losses,” Noreen said. ”That should be motivation to practice harder and play harder. ‘Huggs’ always tells us about his teams at Cincinnati. They’d lose a game and you wouldn’t want to be the opposing team the game after.”
These Mountaineers lost by 10 on Monday night, and 16 on Saturday.
”What makes this a hard game is you have to do the right thing the whole time,” Huggins said. ”When you’re told a thousand times, ‘don’t over run the ball,’ and you over run the ball, they make another pass and you over run the ball again, they end up 5-on-3 and shoot a layup.”
It was a reoccurring theme Saturday.
”There has to come a time when you figure out that’s not the right thing to do,” Huggins said.
It’s also difficult to win when the opposing team shoots 47 percent from the field, 80 percent from the line, and gets an out-of-nowhere performance from a guy who has seen action in only six games and played a total of 78 minutes all season, as the Cowboys did Saturday.
Brian Williams, who was 1 of 6 from 3-point land all season, was 2 of 2 from that distance against WVU and wound up with 13 points, 10.5 above his season average, in a season-best 22 minutes. A 28-percent shooter, Williams was 5 of 8 from the field. Michael Cobbins added 10 points.
Deniz Kilicli, who totaled 41 points in his last two games, had seven against the Cowboys.