MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Oklahoma State shot a torrid 62.5 percent from the floor to knock off seventh-ranked West Virginia 82-75 Saturday evening at the WVU Coliseum.
On a day that saw the Big 12’s top two teams Kansas and Baylor already lose, the Mountaineers were unable to make up valuable ground in the league standings because of their inability to get key defensive stops and get shots close to the goal.
After leading by four at halftime, 44-40, the tide began to turn for the Mountaineers midway through the second half when they settled for 3s against Oklahoma State’s pack-line defense and the Cowboys were making them pay on the other end.
Then, Davon Dillard’s soaring dunk gave the Cowboys a 61-57 lead with 8:44 remaining.
A key sequence came with 5:30 left and the game tied at 64. Jevon Carter
stole the basketball underneath Oklahoma State’s basket and fed it to freshman forward Lamont West
, who took off from the foul line toward the basket.
West was called for an offensive foul and Bob Huggins, reacting to the play, slipped and fell in front of the bench. The official who made the call issued a technical foul on the West Virginia coach, sending Will Forte to the line where he made both free throws.
The four-point swing in momentum was accentuated four minutes later when Lindy Waters got a 3 to go down from the wing to make it, 74-69, Oklahoma State.
Two Juwan Evans free throws pushed the Cowboy margin to seven with 2:31 left.
Two quick scoring bursts, a Tarik Phillip
3 and then a Brandon Watkins
dunk, made it a two-point game when Carter was called for a foul on Evans near the sideline. Evans made it a two-possession game when he hit two more free throws with 1:14 showing on the clock.
Despite its torrid shooting, Oklahoma State (15-8, 4-6) won this game from the free throw line, hitting 24 of 27, and on the defensive end of the floor by forcing the Mountaineers to shoot mostly 3s - 20 out of the 28 second-half shots they took came from behind the arc.
WVU made just 12 of them for the game (out of 33) - a dramatic departure from the first game back on December 30 when it scored a 17-point victory over the Cowboys in Stillwater.
"Shooting 33 3s is way too much for a team that doesn't shoot it that great," said Huggins. "We couldn't let them get to the free throw line because they're the best free throw shooting team in the Big 12 and we put them on the free throw line.
"We gave them open looks, they shoot 62 percent from 3 (in the second half) as opposed to 32 percent for us," said Huggins.
Jeffrey Carroll led Oklahoma State with 20 points, including 13 of the team’s first 15 points to start the game.
Evans finished with 18 and Forte contributed 13.
Freshman Lamont Evans was one of the few bright spots for West Virginia, scoring a career-high 21 points. All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
"For us to win it takes a great deal of effort and when we're not kind of really in to doing what we do ... I tried to explain to them before the game that we have to have ball pressure. If we don't have ball pressure when you put two guys on one that means they have four on three. Somebody is open. The whole theory is you put enough pressure on the guy with that ball that he can't find the open guy. We didn't do that."
West scored a career-high 21, 15 of those coming in the first half on five 3s, while Phillip added 15.
West Virginia did not have a starter reach double figures tonight and Esa Ahmad
, the team’s leading scorer with an average of 12.2 points heading into today’s action, failed to score, missing all three of his field goal attempts.
A sell-out crowd of 14,225 watched the home team get beat badly on the glass, 30-16. West Virginia, the worst defensive rebounding team in the Big 12, grabbed only nine defensive boards in a game consisting of 157 combined points.
"I've never had a team in 35 years get out-rebounded 30-16, never, and that's playing everybody that's any good in college basketball," said Huggins. "The shot selection and the effort to rebound the ball wasn't there."
The Mountaineers (18-5, 6-4) return to the road to face the other conference team to win at the Coliseum this season, Oklahoma, which lost to Oklahoma State earlier this week.
That game will tip off at 9 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.