MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Apparently Oklahoma State felt a slight hangover from its loss to Kansas. And the cure, odd though it seemed, was seeing star point guard Marcus Smart pick up three fouls in the first 2 1/2 minutes.

“It wasn’t the start we were looking for, but in some strange way, maybe it was something we needed,” said coach Travis Ford after the No. 14 Cowboys pounded West Virginia 73-57 on Saturday.

“In the locker room prior to the game, I didn’t think we had the energy level that we needed. But guys figured out that with Marcus Smart out of the game, that we were in trouble.”

What should have been WVU’s path to an upset became Oklahoma State’s rallying cause. Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown scored 16 points, and Smart returned to form in the second half to finish with 14 points as the Cowboys (20-6, 10-4) swept the season series.

“I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I can get guys to play hard, that I can get guys to compete. For some reason I haven’t been able to reach these guys, which is my fault. I should have been able to find a way to reach them.”            — Bob Huggins

The Mountaineers (13-14, 6-8) slipped to 0-8 against the Big 12′s top six teams and sent coach Bob Huggins into another postgame diatribe regarding his players’ insufficient effort.

“I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I can get guys to play hard, that I can get guys to compete,” he said. “For some reason I haven’t been able to reach these guys, which is my fault. I should have been able to find a way to reach them.”

West Virginia, led off the bench by Aaric Murray’s 11 points and Matt Humphrey’s 10, shot only 30 percent and committed 17 turnovers compared to only seven assists.

The game had a bizarre opening, with OSU’s Smart picking up three fouls in the first 2:34. He walked toward the bench after his second foul as coach Travis Ford sent Kirby Gardner to check in. But when play resumed, Gardner was still kneeling at the scorer’s table, and Smart jumped backed into the defensive flow, picking up his third foul seconds later after colliding with two WVU players in pursuit of a loose ball.

“We had a guy at the scorer’s table ready to go check in,” Ford said. “For some reason, he didn’t get in the game, and that upset me, to say the least.”

Despite 31-percent shooting, and going without a basket for eight minutes in one stretch, WVU trailed only 35-33 at half thanks to Murray’s putback dunk just before the buzzer.

But Smart’s return in the second half elevated OSU’s game and the visitors took charge. After Smart had five points in a 7-0 run that stretched the lead to 52-41, only once in the final 12 minutes did WVU come within single digits.

The Cowboys got 13 points from Brian Williams along with 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks from Michael Cobbins.

WVU’s Deniz Kilicli saw first-hand how tough OSU’s interior defense could be, finishing 3-of-11 from the floor with four turnovers in a seven-point performance.

“We’ve noticed the last few games that West Virginia’s been featuring Kilicli a lot,” Ford said. “So our guys heard his name repeatedly the past couple days.”

Kevin Noreen scored nine points — including an early 3-pointer that helped WVU take a 15-8 lead — and grabbed eight rebounds in the loss. He played a team-high 33 minutes.

SECOND-HALF DEJA VU

Seemingly energized by Murray’s dunk before intermission, West Virginia didn’t carry over that momentum. The Mountaineers saw Oklahoma State shoot 51 percent in the second half and were outscored 38-24.

“What’s the difference between the first half and the second half most of this season?” Huggins said. “It doesn’t seem we compete as hard.”

SLUMPING HARRIS

Eron Harris hit a 3-pointer with 5:40 left, his first points since the Texas Tech game of the previous week. He was held scoreless at K-State on Monday and started Saturday’s game 0-of-6.

The freshman wound up with six points on 1-of-7 shooting with three turnovers.

BALANCED COWBOYS

Considering Williams had scored only 15 points over six games since returning from a wrist injury, his 13 points Saturday showed Oklahoma State has another way to attack defenses.

“The strength of our team is who are you going to stop?” Ford said. “It’s pretty tough to focus on one or two guys on our team. We have some versatility. I liked the way the shots were distributed among our players.”

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Comments

  • Jbc

    We are having a down year can people not accept that??? I listen to the post game and I didn't hear the coach throw his team under the bus?? So where do u get that from? We had some misfortunes recruiting wise, we are young, new conference(notice no seton hall, Rutgers, providence,usf, St. John's, DePaul ) and a lot of travel. Next year will be better!! Most programs will have a down year here and there! Go eers!!

    • big tom

      you must have been listening to a different post game interview than i saw. that's about all he did was beat down the players. It's this way after every game we lose and sometimes when we win...

    • Alum

      jbc, agreed.

      Some here don't seem to remember what happened to a couple of recruiting classes. When they do remember I'm positive they will go after Huggins for some things that were beyond his control (like medical clearance). All programs have a down year now and then and unfortunately this is ours, complicated by a change of conference. If some of the naysayers want an example, consider UK. National champions last year and out of the top 25 most of this season. It's college ball where the personnel are constantly changing; seasons like this happen on occasion.

      tommy, larry, billy and a couple of others take shots often without knowing what they are talking about.

  • RJR.

    I am surprised the attendance has been so good this year considering the terrible team in Motown this year.

  • Jack

    I like Huggie Bear. I look at his entire coaching career and he has won a lot of games. He has recruited some of college's best players that have gone on to play in the NBA. He is well respected by other coaches. In order to get fans excited and show their support, you have to put a good product on the floor and it's not happening this season.

  • wirerowe

    This has to be killing Bobby. He is a proud bright man. But this season looks like it is taking its toll on him. Time will tell if he has either lost his edge, his passion or time has passed him by. But the last two years have not been very good. I think that anybody not just fair weather fans have to be concerned about our basketball program. Is it time to pull the plug? No. but it is time to be observant and objective. Our ultimate loyalty must be to the program.

  • Nate

    When will you fair weather fans shut up??? Seriously, this will be the first time Huggins hasn't taken us to the NCAA tourney. Grow up, take your lumps this year, and please show some mountaineer pride!

    And Larry, please stop with the "Penn State Clown Suit". I've seen you write that about 100 times. We all get it, you don't like his outfit.

    • graywv

      Right on, where are the real fans, sure the state fans are enbarressed at what we see, its hard watching our beloved Mountaineers take such beatings every week, but they are our kids(WE are Family) sure we all hope for better thats why we go to games and watch everytime the are on TV. But cutting Huggs after every game is not productive, these players are at present not dedicated to the game as Huggs team always have been. Their just might be a bad apple somewhere in this bunch-and I am sure it will be corrected.Huggs clothes have nothing to do about basketball games so let it rest ,those comments are so non-issue. Root and be positive about OUR MOUNTAINNERS-remember WE ARE MOUNTAINEERS!

      • WILLIAM

        'JUMPSUIT HUGGINS' IS THE PROBLEM, NOT THE PLAYERS.This coach throw his players under the bus all the time. THIS TEAM IS LOSING BECAUSE OF VERY POOR COACHING. This coach make over $10,000.00 dollars a day. The fans have been taken for a ride with ticket prices and other cost. Oliver Luck and WVU only care about the money and not the fans! DOES ANYONE THINKS THAT HUGGINS SHOULD BE PAID THIS RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY (TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A DAY)?

      • Misterman

        Aight graywv!!

    • Misterman

      Agreed, Nate.

    • Alum

      Nate, agreed!

      graywv, spot on.

      billy, just go away. You prove over and over that you don't know what you are talking about.

  • Jack

    What does this team do best? They probably lead the nation in committing fouls. They make every opposing team look great. As for the worst, they can't compete, they can't shoot, they have no leadership on the floor, no go to guy like Butler or Jones. I hope potential recruits are not watching these games. Recruiting will have to vastly improve. Huggins was always known as a top recruiter and he better get startted. This is a season to quickly forget. This team seems confused for the most part and shows no rhythm no matter which players are on the floor.

    • big tom

      actually , i hope potential recruits are watching us, they can see that if they are good, and want to work, they have a good chance of lots of PT. It certainly wouldn't be hard cracking our lineup/

  • Tim C

    We do not have any good point guards. That's the crux of the issue, period. They do not know how to run an offense, when to pass or dribble,who to through it to, and who to guard. When Huggs tells them to go left and then they go right, that is just dumba%# point guard play. It ain't the coach, so will big Tom, William, and Larry just shut up about Huggs and his attire. Do you realize just how dumb your little tirades sound?

    • Hoffy

      There is much we do not know of all of this, although we may believe we do, particularly when there is fault to be found. That, sadly, is a weak aspect of human nature when it comes to judging others. But must that judgement become so harsh that we question another person's appearance while we forget the teachings of a religion whose most sanctified symbol was poor of dress and appearance?
      Pretty stinking weak...

  • 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!

    • Alum

      Oh please! I doubt that you even listened to what was said. Rather you heard just what you wanted to hear.

  • chasmo

    Sad Sad Sad trying to watch / listen to this bunch that huggins has brought " in ". Coach , sure wish ATLEAST you would dress professional - not in SS ! and, do you NOT realize YET that the TV camera picks up every one of your CHOICE WORDS that you continuously use to MAKE A POINT ?
    Hurry up end of season and those that PAID today , deserve a refund . SAD !

  • Larry

    This foundation (WVU Basketball Program) is built upon athletes who are “street players”. Athletes just by nature, are generally competitive, and will fight to not be embarrassed. We saw that again today. That is why this current WVU team fights to stay in the game and gives the other team fits. But with no shooters to rely on, the fighters eventually succumb to the shooters. In the end, foundational problems always crumble.

    16-53 (30.2% FGP) is unacceptable. 4-21 (19% 3PM) is unacceptable. To get blown out at home in front of 10,000 plus fans is unacceptable. Paying Bob Huggins $10,000.00 a day to produce mediocrity is unacceptable.

    When will the fans respond and quit buying tickets to watch poorly coached Basketball is the question? It’s not about winning any more at WVU it’s about selling tickets. The fans seem to be content & willing to shell out top dollar to watch Huggins in his Penn State colored Clown Suit coaching average street players.

    So don’t expect to see any changes anytime soon. It is still hard to imagine people actually “paying” hard earned money to watch a basketball team that is sinking faster than the Titanic…

    Anyway that’s just my opinion and I think everyone is entitled to hear it.

  • Hoffy

    Give Coach Huggins credit for accepting the blame, as any coach should. For the players, they have to step up as well, for some of what is wrong is on them, too. Put aside any notions of playing in the NBA for now, because if you aren't able to do any better than this, NBA will mean No Basketball Anymore.

  • cutty77

    Enough has been Said By Huggs and About Huggs.Everybody needs to watch the Kevin N. interview.He sums it up pretty well.To me,GET THIS SEASON OVER WITH AND WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR.

  • big tom

    huggie is making $8219 a day. If he really cares ,and really loves west virginia, he's give some of this money back to the tax payers of wv...or not...

  • big tom

    couple observations,,, not one of our players could start for okla st. maybe not even get a scholarship
    next, we are no better now than the gonzaga game.
    next , our players have not been coached up. one bit.
    next, this is embarrassing to every wvu fan and resident of wv.
    bob huggins has taken a pretty good bunch of recruits of john beilein, and run this program into the ground... you don't believe me??? look at our record since beilein's boys left.
    huggins has gaine 100 lbs from that fat contract Luck gave him.
    Huggins has lost his edge, it looks like he's now in it for the money cause he just isn't coaching up these guys..

  • Jethro

    My kingdom for a few basketball players