Eleventh-ranked West Virginia nearly led wire to wire in depositing Oklahoma State, 92-75, today at sold-out Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
It was the Big 12 opener for both teams.
With the exception Lucas N’Guessan’s dunk to begin the game, Oklahoma State spent the rest of the afternoon simply trying to get the ball in bounds and across the midcourt line against “Press Virginia,” which made eight steals and forced 19 turnovers that translated into 26 points.
But today’s outcome was more a matter of some stellar outside shooting from guards Daxter Miles Jr.
and Jevon Carter
against Oklahoma State’s more highly touted backcourt of Jawun Evans and Phil Forte.
Miles’ game-high 22 came on nine of 14 shooting, while Carter’s 15 was the result of converting five out of 10 from the floor.
Evans came into today averaging better than 20 points per game but this afternoon he was held to just three-of-nine shooting in getting his 15 points.
Forte led Oklahoma State with 18.
“Obviously I thought we played pretty well,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
Freshman forward Sagaba Konate
came off the bench to contribute a season-high 12 points after taking junior Elijah Macon
’s spot in the rotation. Macon was a late scratch after suffering a knee injury in last Friday's win against Northern Kentucky.
earned his second straight start at the center position and contributed 9 points and five rebounds.
The Mountaineers were also fairly accurate from the free throw line, converting a better-than-usual 76.9 percent from the charity stripe today.
“Lamont stepped up and hit some big shots when they went zone to really get them out of zone and Sags had a heck of a game. Brandon gave us 25 minutes and I don’t think Brandon has ever played 25 minutes; and Nate is so solid and does so many things for us,” said Huggins.
Following a Leyton Hammonds basket that reduced West Virginia’s lead to 10-7, the Miles took control of the game with three straight layups to make it 16-7. Jevon Carter
was fouled by Evans attempting a 3, and his three free throws expanded West Virginia’s lead to 12, 19-7.
The margin mushroomed to 16 on a Konate stuff with 2:14 remaining before the Mountaineers settled for a 13-point advantage at the break.
On three occasions, Oklahoma State reduced its deficit to eight but each time West Virginia had answers.
The big response came following two Evans free throws when West Virginia scored seven straight points to push the margin back to 15. Another 3 from West with 12:03 remaining got the margin to 18, 61-43, which is about where it remained until Miles’ driving layup with 4:21 left in the game made it 82-61, West Virginia.
Some late 3s from Forte kept the margin under 20.
By then, most of the announced 13,611 who attended today’s game had already left the arena.
The Cowboys, now 10-3, were seeking coach Brad Underwood’s 100th career victory this afternoon.
“It’s really a good win in light of the fact that Esa gets two early and he gets his third one early in the second half; JC has four and Dax has four. The way they were calling fouls I didn’t think anyone was going to be left,” said Huggins.
A total of 49 fouls were called in the game on both teams - 29 on West Virginia with 20 of those coming in the second half.
The Mountaineers have now won five straight against the Cowboys dating back to the 2014-15 season.
The victory boosts West Virginia’s record to 12-1 and the Mountaineers will return to the road to face Texas Tech on Tuesday night in a late 9 p.m. tipoff that will be televised nationally on ESPNews.