MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — What Marcus Smart did to Texas on Wednesday night was “ridiculous”—at least that was Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford’s description after his point guard compiled 24 points, 11 rebounds and six steals in an 87-74 victory.

The multi-dimensional Smart has become the face of the Big 12 this season, one he could be spending in the NBA if not for a romanticized view of college life keeping him in Stillwater a second year. Here was a kid on the cusp of millions, projected to go among the top three picks in last summer’s NBA draft, yet waxing grateful about the fact his room, board and tuition were being covered at OSU.

Instead of diving into the big-business grinder of professional hoops, he’s a humble and hungry superstar aiming to take the Cowboys to a Big 12 title. The chase didn’t start so well when Oklahoma State was ambushed in its league opener at Kansas State last weekend, so Smart and his crew are eager to right their road wrongs with Saturday’s game at West Virginia.

“If you want to win the league, you’re going to have to come up with some road wins,” said Ford, whose team went 5-4 in Big 12 road games last year and finished a game off the pace. “There’s no way around that.”

As brilliant as Smart was last season—claiming Big 12 player of the year honors—WVU never witnessed his best. He averaged 13.5 points on 8-of-19 shooting and had combined two-game totals of four rebounds, eight assists and 10 turnovers. Yet Oklahoma State still swept the season series 80-66 and 73-57.

Will the outcome of the next meeting be any different? The Mountaineers have reason to hope so, returning to Morgantown after narrow wins at TCU and Texas Tech.

Said Juwan Staten, who figures to be matched up against Smart for much of Saturday’s game: “The fact that we got two games on the road, we’re feeling confident coming back home.”

Confidence is one thing, but precedent is another. The Mountaineers have frustrated themselves and their fan base by failing to win against the high-profile quartet of Wisconsin, Missouri, Gonzaga and Purdue. With at least 11,000 fans expected to turn out. Saturday’s showdown against the No. 11 Cowboys offers another proving ground.

“We’ve had a number of chances this year to get big wins, and we haven’t seemed to come out on top,” Staten said. “But we’re still plugging away at it, and we think that those games have helped us and prepared us for the game we’re going to play (vs. OSU).”

Added coach Bob Huggins: “We’ve got to finish games better than we have up to this point.”



Tipoff: Saturday 4 p.m. in Morgantown (Big 12 Network)
Records: The Cowboys (13-2, 1-1) have won six of seven—that loss coming last Saturday at K-State 74-71 in the Big 12 opener. OSU’s best RPI wins came against No. 8 Colorado and a split against No. 20 Memphis. … West Virginia (10-5, 2-0) is 0-5 against the RPI top 142 and unbeaten against lower-ranked teams.
RPIs: Oklahoma State is No. 14 and WVU is No. 77.
Coach: Travis Ford (240-181 overall in 14 seasons) owns a 117-66 record in his sixth season with the Cowboys, including a 1-3 mark in three NCAA tournament berths.
OSU top players: Smart is The Man, but Huggins called guard Markel Brown “a great, great athlete. And I think he has improved. He bounces it better than he bounced it a year ago.” Brown is putting up 17.1 points and grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game, but even at 6-foot-3, his hops make him a top shot-blocker. … Le”Bryan Nash (13.2 points, 5.8 rebounds) is a junior whose game is progressively moving closer to the basket. His 68 3-point attempts as a freshman dipped to 32 as a sophomore and he’s just 0-of-4 this season. … OSU is playing its third game without 6-8 junior Michael Cobbins, who is out for the season with an Achilles injury. He averaged only 4.5 points but pulled down 4.3 rebounds and was one of the conference’s best shot blockers.
WVU roster notes: Eron Harris (18.5 points) was overtaken this week for the Big 12 scoring lead by Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark (18.7), but he’s shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range. … Point guard Juwan Staten (16.8 points) is sixth in the league after a 25-point outburst in Monday’s 89-86 overtime win at Texas Tech. He leads the conference and ranks 35th nationally at 36 minutes per game. … In double figures during seven of his last eight games, Terry Henderson is evolving into the consistent scoring threat WVU needs to compete in Big 12 play. His game-tying 3 at the end of regulation at Texas Tech saved the Mountaineers. … While stricken with the flu, Remi Dibo played a combined 13 minutes and scored four points in WVU’s two road games. But the junior forward looked healthy during Friday’s practice. … West Virginia learned Thursday that Jonathan Holton’s waiver request was denied by the NCAA, meaning the junior college transfer won’t be eligible this season.
Line: Oklahoma State -5 1/2
Prediction: Oklahoma State 81-76
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  • madhatter

    my goodness, the refs stold this one,,, while,i can't b elieve it,,, we had that game all the way,,, we proved today we can play with anyone,,, might not be able to beat them but what the heck, as long as we compete who really cares if we win,,,there's always next yr, but i seriously think we will run the table from here,, coach huggins isn't a HOF coach for nothing, just look at wvu's record the last three yrs... that proves it,,,we should crack the top ten next week after we beat texas on monday... go eers you had it all the way if it weren't for the refs.

  • madhatter

    he was a shooter in highschool, never was asked to play D,,,,he's slow but at least he qualified

  • James

    This may upset some people, but Nathan Adrain needs to be on the bench, slow, can't play defense, can't shoot, not even sure if he even deserved a D1 scholarship, he looks completely lost

  • madhatter

    early play so far, wvu is gonna blow them off the court, i see an easy victory that will cement our position at the top of the big 12

  • Midter Man

    Go Mountaineers.

  • madhatter

    my prediction,,,,,, wvu 96 okiest 67

  • Dub V Fan

    After a mediocre non-conf record, we need quality wins......let's start today. Go eers !!!

  • John S. Shackelford

    Like to have a player like Smart, who has the ability to free himself up and make shots. We are still a young team, without an aircraft carrier. Depth is a problem too if injuries come calling. You would think a guy like Huggins could land a couple of them. Maybe it is Morgantown and not Huggins.

    • madhatter

      it is both

    • ron "from morgantown"

      Next year Wvu will compete for a B12 Championship and has a chance to go deep in the tournament . Huggs is back! You can't keep a Hall of Fame coach down for too long . Let's enjoy our native son while we still have him as coach . Live the moment , and don't wish your life away .

  • Dave

    A great opportunity today to beat a ranked team and put a good win in our column. Good luck Mountaineers. You have the whole state of West Virginia (excluding those who wear green) behind you.


  • Dale

    Thank you Ron "from Morgantown" for thinking about all those folks being inconvenienced in the greater Kanawha Valley. Go Mountaineers!!

  • richard

    i think today is the day for a big win. upset special in morgantown.

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    wvu wins a close one in overtime!
    lets go 'eers!!

  • donutfiend77

    Roll Pride!

  • ron "from morgantown"

    Absolutely 100 per cent guarantee a win today . Come back at 7 pm to congratulate me . Finally it feels like basketball season on the campus at WVU . It took awhile , but that the trend nation wide . Students are back and so is big time basketball . The coliseum will be rocking and Huggs may even get a" T" today just to show he awake on the sidelines . Yes , just like old times - a ruckus crowd and a top 20 visitor bout to be taken down by the mountaineer maniacs and the magic of a full house at the coliseum . So as you walk past Gale Catlett drive and look at the statue of Jerry West get ready to see the world champs Mountaineers slay a top 20 team and go 3 - 0 in the Big 12 .

    • The bookman

      Ron, that could be Caridi's intro to the game broadcast. I hope I get to congratulate you on your prognostication. But after predicting Tennant as the victor in the upcoming Senate race I'm not sure you're using intellect in your picks...anyway, Let's Gooo Mountaineers!!!! Hopefully, OSU doesn't leave us Smarting a loss.

  • Steve

    Would be a great victory if WVU can pull it off.

    Let's go mountaineers!

    • ron "from morgantown"

      Wvu is going to win this game for the Kanawha Valley and the 200000 without water . The rest of West Va( as well as the country) is thinking about you and hope all returns to normal soon . I know its just a game and pales by comparison to what yall going through but hopefully its a slight diversion and will brighten your day when the Mountaineers win today .