Alonzo J. Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State freshman Phil Forte scored a season-high 26 points when the Cowboys beat WVU 80-66 in Stillwater.

MORGANTOWN, W. Va — It hardly balances out a season’s worth of travel hardships, but WVU enjoys at least a small edge today as Oklahoma State visits.

The Cowboys (19-6, 9-4 Big 12) are coming off a 68-67 double-overtime loss to Kansas on Wednesday night, whereas West Virginia hasn’t played since Monday’s 71-61 loss at Kansas State. Perhaps that explains why OSU is only a 3 1/2-point favorite despite being in the chase for the league title, while the Mountaineers realistically aren’t chasing anything higher than sixth-place.

Today’s five keys:

1. THE LAST TIME THEY MET …
Now, we point back to Jan. 26 and there’s  Phil Forte looking like a pint-sized version of Jimmer Fredette, scoring 26 points when the Pokes pulled away for an 80-66 victory. But don’t overlook that WVU led 24-11 with under six minutes to go in the half. Sure, that’s small consolation to a Mountaineers bunch that eventually yielded 80 points that day, but for a team with a fragile confidence, perhaps it’s heartening to recall how they outplayed OSU for a chunk of the opening half … before collapsing.

2. FORTE FILLS IT UP
What do West Virginia and Tennessee Tech have in common? Those are the only two teams that have allowed Forte to score 20 or more points this season, though the freshman has been a consistent double-digit scorer.

Curious Forte fact: He entered the first meeting with WVU on an 8-of-31 five-game stretch from 3-point range, and since lighting up WVU, he has gone just 12-of-47.

The take from Huggins: “We seemingly cure everybody’s shooting problems.”

Beyond that, Huggins sounded at a loss as to why spot-up shooters (Brady Heslip, Will Spradling) have given the Mountaineers so much trouble in recent games.

“You don’t help off of ball-side guys, and we’ve done that 100 times it seems like,” the coach said. “That’s what weak side help is for. We, for whatever reason, have not followed the scouting report.”

WVU guard Jabarie Hinds said he and his teammates have been reminded constantly of Forte’s big output.

“In practice we’ve been working on certain ways to get over screens, how to read them (better). We’ve got to make him dribble the basketball — not just catch and shoot it.”

Curious Forte fact No. 2: He was a high school teammate of Marcus Smart’s, though the players — and OSU coach Travis Ford — insist Forte wasn’t offered as a tag-along.

“We probably went overboard to let all parents on both sides, and the coaches, know that I’m recruiting these guys separately,” Ford said. “I’m recruiting Phil Forte because I want him and I need him and yeah, we want Marcus, too — he just happens to be your teammate.”

3. GET SMART
This might be Marcus Smart’s only trip to Morgantown, as he’ll likely be a first-round pick should he enter this summer’s NBA draft.

As talented as Smart is at making plays and overmatching other guards with his length and strength, he had a mediocre game in the first matchup against WVU. He produced 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting with four assists and three steals and gave away a season-high seven turnovers.

In seven games since, Smart is averaging 19.5 points with a more favorable 28 assists to 21 turnovers.

4. DOWNTOWN MARKEL BROWN
Hard to fathom how Oklahoma State’s leading scorer manages to be overlooked nationally, but the 6-3 junior Brown has been every bit as essential as Smart. He’s shooting better than 39 percent on 3s, including a 7-of-10 night at Allen Fieldhouse. Along with scoring (15.9 points per game), he also brings rebounding (4.5), and with 21 blocks, he could wind up leading all Big 12 guards in that category.

“He’s probably as good an athlete as there is in the league,” said Huggins. And ESPN has the alley-oop highlights to prove it.

5. CLEAR EYES FOR HARRIS
West Virginia’s Eron Harris had a night to forget at K-State, and a night many K-State fans aren’t likely going to let him forget. He was held scoreless, attempted only two shots, fouled out in eight minutes and wept on the Mountaineers bench at the frustration of it all.

The freshman had not been held scoreless since a loss at Duquesne on Dec. 11, and he probably won’t be shutout today by the Cowboys — considering he scored 17 points o 6-of-10 shooting in Stillwater.

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Comments

  • cutty77

    This will take care of itself,believe me.Huggs won't be able to handle this himself its plain to see.

  • big tom

    consider, not one wvu player would start for okla.st. not one.
    consider, we have not impoved one bit since gonzaga destroyed us.
    consider, huggie continues to over look the fact that he recruited these guys, and they have not improved one bit this year.now who;s fault is that.
    consider, the more huggie screams the more we lose...
    consider,, huggie has got fatter and fatter as those big checks come in.
    consider, luck isn't doing his job if he continues to put up with this nonsense.

  • pghmountaineer

    I think it's now become obviuos. It's time for Huggs to retire. This is his team and they aren't responding for whatever reason. We get nothing out of our bigs. No points, little rebounding, average defense, and little hustle. He recruited them. I'm not placing the blame on these guys, they only have so much talent and it's not at this level.
    Huggs is going the same route as Bob Knight. Look at his last 10 years as a coach.
    He didn't win squat. All that yelling and screaming got him nothing. Today's recruits don't respond to this behavior.
    Look at the current succesful coaches, none of them show this kind of behavior on the bench. Time has passed him by.

  • big tom

    matt, you're a pig

  • Matt

    Go away Tom ur gross

  • big tom

    to be realistic, no we won't win. and all t he screaming and hollaring by huggie won't improve anyone's performance.. coaching will,,,the beilein type coaching.
    wonder what it would take to get him back. probably a divorce.
    huggies has gotten fat in more ways than on at wvu,,, that huge salary which he hasn't lived up to ,and his waistline, he looks bloated ,ready to burst.lHe is really obese.
    wonder how long oliver will put up with this, well sports fans, he will as long as huggie wants him to.. with that lifetime contract, wow, what a mess.

    • WILLIAM

      'JUMPSUIT HUGGINS' MAKES A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY! HE MAKE OVER $10,000 PER DAY. Isn't America great. WVU fans have been taken for a ride with ticket prices and other cost! I hope every WVU fans would not spend another dime on WVU sports! Can you believe that this coach is paid over TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A DAY? Oliver Luck and WVU only care about the MONEY, and not the FANS!

  • matt

    Larry, everyone is entitled to say what they feel. Just curious, do you have any coaching experience?,

    • Larry

      Matt,

      I once coached a church camp softball team for three innings and we lost.

      But anyway FYI, I have applied for the head coaching position at WVU for the Men’s basketball team. I offered to work for free to save the school the $10,000 a day (3 Million a year) they are currently paying Huggins. After more consideration, I offered to “Pay Them” to let me coach the team. I am still waiting for a reply.

      My plan would be to first fire the entire current coaching staff and then hire a couple top notch assistants to do the actual coaching. I would then bring in the top talent in West Virginia as my players. My role would simply be motivational and supervision.

      I could do no worse than Bob Huggins has done the last 2 years. I’m sure I could finish at 500 or maybe even a little better. and it would bring in the fans to watch the WV talent. It would save the University 3 million a year and everyone would be happy.

      No, I would never win a Big 12 championship but neither will Huggins so what is the difference?

      Hope this answers your question.

    • big tom

      matt , shut up and drink the kool=aid

      • Bill Carter

        If you treated prisoners like that, they would sue you for cruel and inhuman punishment!

    • cutty77

      @matt,
      What Huggs is doing is not Coaching Skills,he has NO PEOPLE SKILLS.He's Coaching Young Man,Not a Prison Team.

  • Larry

    Hoffy,

    No...You didn't make a mistake...

    Mediocre Invitational Tournament!

    That is Brilliant! Bob Huggins has brought the program down to mediocrity. But even worse than that is that the overwhelming majority of fans have accepted it.

    • WILLIAM

      Did you hear 'JUMPSUIT HUGGINS' post game comments? He throws his players under the BUS all the time! I bet some of these players will not be back next year. HUGGINS IS TIRED OF THESE PLAYERS AND THE PLAYERS ARE VERY TIRED OF HUGGINS. This coach has failed, he has been an embarrassment, and this team he losing and the way they are because of POOR COACHING. Any basketball player(recruit) that would come to WVU to play for this coach would be making a BIG mistake!

      • Rintintin

        He doesn't throw them under the bus they crawl under it. This team is bad. I agree with that but the coaching isn't bad. In five years we haven't missed a tourney then one bad year and everyone wants to jump off the Huggs band wagon and maybe if in two years we are still bad I will be off of it too. But I don't think you should give up on Huggs so soon.

  • Hoffy

    I want to see if the time off since Monday equates to a better performance by the Mountaineers today. Forget all the talk about the NCAA's or even the MIT and just win the dadgum game, fellas!

    • cutty77

      Great Points Hoffy.Fresh legs may Help the shots to fall.

      • Hoffy

        Thanx, and fresh heads, too. Oh, meant NIT, not MIT. Oops!

        • Hoffy

          On second thought: MIT = Mediocre Invitational Tournament!

  • cutty77

    I keep hoping this Team will put it all together against somebody,anybody if nothing else but for themselves.So today maybe the Day.

  • Matt Turner

    Time for a W. Give it hell today boys!