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Oklahoma State Smart Down The Stretch, Defeats Mountaineers 73-72

Oklahoma St. escapes Morgantown with a 73-72 win.

This Cowboy made every timely play needed for a tight win in Morgantown.
This Cowboy made every timely play needed for a tight win in Morgantown.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

You could argue that this was a clash of the two best point guards in the Big 12 if not all of college basketball. The stat lines certainly bare that out. Marcus Smart had 22 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. He also drove the bus to and from the airport. Staten was no slouch for West Virginia with 20, 5, 8, and 3 steals.

While the point guards clashed, comparisons of the supporting casts for both teams were pretty much a wash. The Mountaineers got slightly more production from their starting five, and the Cowboys had a 12-8 lead in bench scoring. In fact, the stat sheets for both teams really couldn't be more even if they tried. It was a surprisingly well officiated game that only saw 31 fouls called between the two teams. And by far, the majority of those were called in the second half.

Mountaineer fans might say that it should have been 32, given that Staten's drive to the basket in the last few seconds of the game didn't result in a foul. Bob Huggins was absolutely livid with the no-call. Watching reviews of the play it seems it was probably the right assessment by the refs. Any contact was minor during the play and would have been a cheap foul call in my eyes.

The flow of the game was steady in both halves with neither team really taking over. West Virginia was able to hold a slim lead for most of the first half and even got it up to eight points before Oklahoma St. crept back into the game. West Virginia took a two point lead into the half at 41-39. The second half was a mirror image of the first as the Cowboys were able to hold at least a slim lead for almost the entire second half.

With the Mountaineers down by one, Terry Henderson his a three with 1:20 remaining on the clock to push West Virginia ahead 72-70. Nathan Adrian came up with a nifty block on the Cowboys next trip down the court that resulted in a jump ball situation and the arrow pointing the Mountaineers way. West Virginia held on to the ball until the last few seconds of the shot clock ran off before Staten made a drive to the basket. His layup was off the mark and the Cowboys were able to take the lead on a three by Markel Brown. The resulting missed layup by Staten as I described above  was the last gasp for West Virginia and Oklahoma State escaped Morgantown with a 73-72 victory.

It was another in a long line of last minute losses by the Mountaineers to a quality opponent. This team is worlds better than last years team in every way imaginable. But they just haven't found a way to knock a quality team out. It might pay dividends in the future. But for now, it's another frustration.