West Virginia-Oklahoma St. Preview
Markel Brown’s game-winning 3-point shot against West Virginia remains a sore subject for the Mountaineers.
Brown has continued to shoot well from long range since and will try to lead No. 11 Oklahoma State to its 12th straight home win Saturday in this Big 12 Conference rematch.
While Marcus Smart leads the conference with 17.8 points per game, Brown has been a bigger thorn in West Virginia’s side. He averaged 20.0 points in last season’s two-game sweep while Smart averaged 13.5.
The Mountaineers (11-8, 3-3) did a good job of limiting Brown when these teams met in Morgantown on Jan. 11. His streak of scoring in double figures was about to end at eight before he finished with 12 points thanks to a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in a thrilling 73-72 victory.
Including that contest, Brown had missed 12 straight 3-pointers before making the winning shot.
"That was one of those coulda, shoulda won the games," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "They have a guy who hadn’t made a (3-point) shot in a month makes a 3."
West Virginia had a chance to win, but Juwan Staten missed a contested layup in the closing seconds. Teammate Devin Williams was in position for a follow shot, but Smart flew in to disrupt the play as time expired.
"To me, that may have been the play of the year," Huggins said. "From where he came from to break up the rebound attempt from Devin Williams, that’s a player."
Oklahoma State (15-3, 3-2) will play for the first time since its three-game win streak ended in last Saturday’s 80-78 loss at then-No. 15 Kansas. The Cowboys have to avoid looking ahead to Monday’s trip to face arch-rival No. 25 Oklahoma.
"I don’t know how much the players look ahead, maybe they do," coach Travis Ford said. "Our guys have done a pretty decent job of just trying to pay attention to the next game. Now they get over losses pretty quick."
Smart finished one assist shy of his first triple-double and Brown matched a season high by making five 3-pointers for 15 points. Brown has made eight of his last 14 attempts from long range.
Phil Forte is another Cowboys guard who scores most of his points from long range. He made a career-high seven 3-pointers for a season-high 23 points against the Jayhawks.
"I thought it was one of the best games he’s played and I’m not talking about because he shot the ball well, he’s done that many times," Ford said. "I’m talking about the rebounds, the defense he played, the effort and how he effected the game."
West Virginia ended a three-game slide by shooting 53.7 percent in Wednesday’s 87-81 win over Texas Tech. Terry Henderson scored a career-high 28 points.
Staten and Eron Harris combined for 31 points. They combine to average 34.6 as the Big 12’s top scoring duo.
Smart had 22 points and 13 boards the last time these teams met. Henderson scored 21 and Harris and Staten combined for 31 for the Mountaineers, who are eager for his rematch.
"I think it gave our guys the confidence that we could play with anybody," Huggins said. "On a night when we did the things that we do well, we can play with anybody."