Oklahoma State came into today’s contest down their best player Cade Cunningham and the first half it looked like the Mountaineers might exert their will on the Cowboys. The second half, the Cowboys proved to be a difficult team to put away.
In the first half, the Oklahoma State Cowboys got things started with an early 4-0 run before West Virginia would get on the board. Emmitt Matthews would get the Mountaineers started with a made free throw, followed by a made three pointer to cut the lead to 6-5. Taz Sherman would then give the Mountaineers their first lead of the day 8-5 with his first three of the day.
West Virginia’s big man Derek Culver, who is only one of two players in the nation to average a double-double, came in early and collected 7 points in 7 minutes, but also two quick fouls. Culver would be forced miss most of the first half with two fouls.
As the first half came closed down, West Virginia used a 10-4 run to extend the lead to 37-32 before the teams traded two point plays at the end of the half. West Virginia went into half time feeling good with a 5 point lead.
To start the second half, Oklahoma State switched to a 3-2 zone defense and immediately cut into the lead. West Virginia would continue to do just enough to stay ahead but the lead was gone and the Mountaineers were clinging to their lead. A Bernard Kouma layup with 14 minutes to go gave Oklahoma State a lead 50-48.
With the game in the final minute, and Oklahoma State clinging to a 80-78 lead, Avery Anderson came out of a timeout and nailed an 18-foot jumper to give Oklahoma State an 82-78 lead. Mile McBride would bring the ball up the court and hit Kedrian Johnson with a pass, who finished to cut back into the OSU lead.
Following a free throw by Oklahoma State, West Virginia trailed 83-80 and a chance to tie the game. Poor passing, which was a staple in the entire second half, doomed the Mountaineers as Oklahoma State tied up a pass and called a timeout. The Mountaineers were forced to foul and Oklahoma State would make both free throws to ice the game away 85-80.
Taz Sherman lead all Mountaineers with 20 points. Derek Culver (14), Miles McBride (12) and Emmit Matthews (11) were the other players to finish with double digit points. Oklahoma State owned the glass, collecting 38 rebounds to West Virginia’s 29. Oklahoma State shot 57% from the field but only 28% from behind the arc. West Virginia was slightly worse on both fronts shooting 42% and 21% respectively.
The loss eliminates the Mountaineers chance at the 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. All eyes will turn to the Texas Longhorns & TCU Horned Frogs game tomorrow. If Texas loses, the Mountaineers claim the 3-seed and will take on Texas Tech in the first round of the B12 Tournament. If Texas wins, West Virginia would be the 4-seed and would take on the 5th seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The reasoning for being bumped down to No. 4 below Texas despite an identical 11-6 record and splitting the two regular season meetings is the fact that the Longhorns would have a 2-0 mark against No. 2 seed Kansas and the Mountaineers were 1-1 against the Jayhawks.