It's time for the second edition of the Basketball version of Mountaineer Retweet. Last week, the 'Eers got off to a 2-0 start in Big 12 play with wins over TCU and Texas Tech. Road conference wins are always great, no matter the opponent, but the road gets a little bit tougher this week with Marcus Smart's Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns heading to the WVU Coliseum.
Let's kick this off with Saturday's game against the Pokes.
Oklahoma State (1/11/14):
.@CoachHuggs saying in pre-game he thinks Marcus Smart has better ball skill than Dwayne Wade did at Marquette. Part 2 with Coach up next!— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) January 11, 2014
Heavy praise here from Huggs for Oklahoma State's superstar guard. Though, I can see where he's coming from with the comparison. Smart will likely be drafted around the same spot as Wade, and has an extremely similar skill set to the Heat's future Hall of Famer.
Student section going B-S-insane as the game gets underway #WVU— Marc Basham (@marc_b) January 11, 2014
This team deserves a great crowd for this game, because the Coliseum as been lackluster (to say the least) this season, and there's no excuse both students and general public to show up strong this afternoon. It doesn't look to be a disappointment early.
Juwan Staten just picked the pocket of a distracted Marcus Smart. Crazy impressive move from the #WVU guard.— Marc Basham (@marc_b) January 11, 2014
Staten vs. Smart is going to be the crux of this game today, and it's likely where it'll be decided at the end of it all. Smart is the superstar with the NBA lottery projection, but Staten has been tremendous this year and draws first blood today.
And because of Staten's skill, the Pokes show some good strategy here. Harris is an elite shooter, but isn't nearly the same caliber of ball handler as Staten. Forcing Staten to play off the ball could be huge if OSU is able to keep this up.
NEVER LEAVE THE WHITE GUY UNGUARDED— Afton Wagner (@aftonwagner) January 11, 2014
#WVU not letting OK St. get too much momentum. Keep answering to every punch Cowboys throw at them. Still up 5, 29-24, 7:55 left in half.— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) January 11, 2014
The 'Eers continue to battle and keep the lead despite some great plays by the extremely talented Cowboys. Letting this Oklahoma State team go on any sort of extended run could be a death sentence for WVU.
Remi Dibo can shoot it pretty well, but he gets really confident in his shot very quickly. A couple ill-advised threes and he’s out now.— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) January 11, 2014
Yup. That's a pretty normal Remi Dibo sequence. He needs to find some sort of consistency, because this team needs him to be able to play quality minutes, especially with the recent news of the failed #FreeHolton movement.
In other news #StillFreeHolton.
Flashing forward to the end of the half here, as both team go punch-counter punch down the stretch in an extremely entertaining half of basketball. We were on the short side of a last second before-half time shot Monday in Lubbock, but run a great play to get Devin Williams the bucket to take the lead into halftime over the 11th ranked team in America. Related:
Rec specs is easily my favorite WVU bball player #respect— Clint Trickett (@ClintTrickett9) January 11, 2014
Marcus Smart drills a three-pointer and OSU has taken a 46-43 lead. #WVU not hitting shots here early in the half.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) January 11, 2014
Marcus Smart does some Marcus Smart things as WVU gets off to a sluggish offensive start to open the second half. The Mountaineers, specifically Staten, Harris, and Henderson, are going to have to be able to answer, because Mr. Smart will not be going away.
Second block of the game for Henderson, leads to a three for the sophomore on the other end. Getting it done today with 13 points. #WVU— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) January 11, 2014
Wonderful sequence by T3RRY H3ND3ERSON. It's awesome to watch this kid when he's playing with confidence and he has it in spades today.
Eron Harris can get away with taking bad shots when they go in. Not happening for him so far today. He’s 3-for-11 from the field w/ 7 points— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) January 11, 2014
If there's one thing I don't like about Eron Harris, it's that he has a tendency to go #KobeSystem. Like Michael says, that works sometimes. Not today thus far.
Watching much improved WVU give a Okla.Statr a tussle in Morgantown. Juwan Staten was disappointing last year but having great jr. year.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) January 11, 2014
Mainstream media attention! The improvements of this team are starting to be noticed as conference play starts, and that's big. Perception matters.
Oklahoma State was on 9-2 run without Smart in the game.— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) January 11, 2014
This is enormous, and I hate it. When you get a superstar like Smart on the bench with three fouls, you can't allow a 9-2 run. That's the time WVU needs to make a run of its own, and this missed opportunity could cost the 'Eers the game.
Under-8 timeout, #WVU trails OkState 62-57, but is in double-bonus and OSU isn't to bonus yet. That might be WVU's best chance— Dave Hickman (@dphickman1) January 11, 2014
This is enormous. We've got to get to the line and we have to capitalize on the opportunities. Too often we lose game because we can't hit free throws down the stretch. That can't happen today.
Williams now has 10 points, 11 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season.— WVU Men's Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 11, 2014
PSA: This kid is gonna be outstanding. He makes some freshmen mistakes, but that's unavoidable. It's gonna be fun to watch Devin Williams develop in Morgantown.
WVU's top 2 scorers in the game...TAKE CHARGE when needed. Terry Henderson hits a 3, Juwan Staten drives to the rack. 67-67 game.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) January 11, 2014
Unreal sequence to answer a Smart three pointer that, honestly, felt like something that could have been a dagger.
Oh dear. Where is my heart medication? I don't have heart medication. I should get heart medication.— SmithFire13 (@SmithFire13) January 11, 2014
WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN
HENDERSON FOR THRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Jim Ashley (@JimAshley18) January 11, 2014
Markel Brown hits a 3 to make it a 73-72 lead for OK State. :11 left, WVU ball.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) January 11, 2014
pants back on : (
(He hasn't made a three since December 17th.)
This one is in the books. Juwan Staten misses lay up...couldn't gather the rebound and OK State wins 73-72.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) January 11, 2014
This team is so damn close. Not there yet. But so damn close.— Matt Kirchner (@MKirchner12) January 11, 2014
I'll end this section with shameless self inclusion. But, we are so close. That was absolutely crushing end to an amazing basketball game featuring two of the best point guards in the country (I'm going there). But, this team can play with the best this league has to offer and will get wins against the top of the Big 12 this year. We've got to move on and beat Texas on Monday. Good teams recover from losses like this. Splitting this two game stretch is still a great result.
Texas Longhorns (1/13/14):
Huge game for @WVUhoops tonight. Have to out Okie St behind you. Tonight's an opportunity to move to 3-1 in Big 12 play.— Jonathan Martin (@JonathanKMartin) January 13, 2014
Couldn't have said it better. If this WVU team wants to make the leap from "kinda has potential" to "good," its gotta get this win tonight. Bouncing back from deflating losses is part of college basketball. Everyone's going to have clunkers over the course of a long season--it's how you respond as a team that matters.
Terry Henderson is playing very good basketball for #WVU. Eron Harris has shot the ball well so far, Longhorns lead 10-9.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) January 14, 2014
Early on in the game, it looked like we had come out ready to compete with the 'Horns. As you know, however, this was not to last.
Staten, Harris and Henderson are 7-for-12 from field. Rest of #WVU team 0-for-3.— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) January 14, 2014
This is just not a recipe for success. Teams are finding out how much we really rely on the "Big Three" of Staten, Harris, and Henderson to score. If defenses just focus on those three, we don't really have much of a consistent offensive threat. Someone needs to step up. At times it looks like it could be Devin Williams, but he's still learning how to assert himself.
#WVU is 4-for-16 since Eron Harris went to the bench. Texas on 16-9 run since then.— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) January 14, 2014
Hey, remember when I said how big of a missed opportunity it was when we failed to go on a big run when Marcus Smart was out with foul trouble in the second half on Saturday? Texas took that opportunity and ran with it with Eron on the bench. We lost against Ok. State during that run, Texas won this game last night with theirs.
An 18-4 Texas run to close out play puts #WVU down at the half 41-27.— Marc Basham (@marc_b) January 14, 2014
#WVU’s lack of size and a legitimate front court has been exposed a few times this season, but nothing like this— Doug Walp (@dougWalp) January 14, 2014
Yup. Our lack of quality big men has been killer this year. I really believe in the talent of Devin Williams and Brandon Watkins, but they are just too inexperienced to be relied on as the two primary forwards on a good team.
You know, it would be really nice to have a certain someone playing right now.
If you're looking for a #WVU bright side, they trailed Texas by 13 (by 10 w/3.5 minutes left) last year in Austin and won in OT.— Dave Hickman (@dphickman1) January 14, 2014
(This didn't happen again.)
Juwan Staten just broke a Texas defender off the dribble.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) January 14, 2014
"Broke" codeword for "hit him in the mommy-daddy button" "RT @rivalskeenan: Juwan Staten just broke a Texas defender off the dribble."— Marc Basham (@marc_b) January 14, 2014
So Staten literally caused a player to pull a groin muscle via a crossover? Wow.— Country Roads (@CountryRoadsWV) January 14, 2014
Juwan Staten still finds someway to do fun things, even in the midst of our worst game of the year.
He's going to be the reason this team wins some games that it shouldn't down the stretch.
#WVU players not named Juwan Staten or Terry Henderson are shooting a combined 25.7 percent tonight (9-of-35).— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) January 14, 2014
This is physically painful. Just agonizingly bad. Harris needs to shoot his way out of this slump if we're going to recover from these two losses. This team cannot be a two man show. On any given night, we need Staten, Harris, and Henderson to be clicking, and then have another player or two step up and play their role well to have a chance to beat the better teams in this league.
Obviously, this did not happen tonight, and we undid a whole lot of good that I think has been building up recently.
WVU falls to Texas, 80-69.— WVU Men's Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 14, 2014
And there it is. WVU's first double digit loss of the year comes at an awful, awful time. After winning two games on the road, it was imperative that we at least split this set against the Cowboys and Longhorns. It didn't happen. I hope that I'm wrong, but I feel that the Oklahoma State loss could have been a turning point for this young team. It was so close to being "that one win" that would show a young, talented team that they could beat the best the Big 12 had to offer. To come so close and fail at the end may have proven disastrous to this team's psyche.
That being said, I still have hope and really like this team. There are many more opportunities, and Huggs finally has a group that is coachable and will actually listen to what a guy with 700+ wins has to say about basketball.
The Mountaineers hit the road this Saturday and head to a showdown in the Octogon of Doom against Kansas State Wildcats before heading home to host the second half of the season series against Texas Tech. Until then, keep tweeting and Let's Go Mountaineers!