MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Twice during the final minute of West Virginia’s latest near-miss, point guard Juwan Staten wound his way into the lane, contorting his body around Oklahoma State defenders.

Both times, Staten’s contested shots fell off.

The first miss came with WVU seeking insurance for a two-point lead with 28 seconds left. The second miss came with 4 seconds to go after Markel Brown’s long-distance dagger put Oklahoma State ahead 73-72.

“Everything happened the we way we wanted it to happen,” Staten said of the final possession, which began in the backcourt with 11.6 seconds left. The point guard used a high ball-screen from Devin Williams and made the kind of difficult drive he has converted countless times this season. Only defenses tend to converge in these late-game situations, especially defenses like Oklahoma State’s—the best field-goal percentage defense in the Big 12.

“I got it to the rim—just didn’t make the layup,” Staten said. “Things just didn’t go the way we wanted it to.”

Coach Bob Huggins wasn’t dissatisfied with the decision Staten made to penetrate or the up-close look he found among taller defenders.

“If the ball goes in, we’re all sitting here talking about how far we’ve come,” Huggins said. “We got the ball on the rim with the guy who has finished more baskets than the rest of our team combined. We got what we wanted.”

It was Staten who carried West Virginia (10-6, 2-1) in the waning minutes of last week’s road wins at TCU and Texas Tech, and he was stellar again throughout much of Saturday’s game. With 20 points, five rebounds, eight assists, three steals and only two turnovers, Staten looked every bit the equal of his revered Oklahoma State counterpart, All-American Marcus Smart.

Well, equal in every category but the one that ultimately mattered.

“(Smart) gets a lot of hype and it’s well deserved,” Staten said.

Smart compiled 22 points, 13 boards, five assists and three turnovers. And his final pass was the one he pitched to Brown on the left wing, the one that led to the game-winning 3-pointer.

Said Staten: “He did everything he needed to do in order for his team to win.”

In the aftermath of another too-familiar loss, Huggins wasn’t much on discussing the matchup of point guards or the statistical comparisons.

“Wannie is trying to win games, and I wish everybody else would follow suit sometimes,” Huggins said. “I told you that he has worked his tail off. He studies; he comes in to play; he doesn’t take practices off. I wish everybody would do the same thing.”

Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Juwan Staten knifes through Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown (22) and Kamari Murphy with 4 seconds left trying to put West Virginia ahead.
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  • tw eagle

    if you shoot enough , you'll score points . . . note the photo attached to this column . . .
    BB is a TEAM game , maybe staten outscored smart - BUT OSU outscored WVU ! ! ! there are four OSU defenders on staten in the lane , with no WVU players in sight . . . staten rarely, if ever, PASSES the ball once he makes a move to the lane . . .
    drawing defenders to you OPENS up your teammates for easy shots . . . but you got to be willing to share the ball . . . distributing the ball , not shooting , is the points duty . . . losing by 3-5 points rather than 15-20 may 'feel' better , BUT it's still LOSING ! ! !

    • Aaron

      Staten had 8 assists.

  • Aaron

    Staten played Smart better than Smart played Staten. From the opening minutes to the final drive, no one from Okie State including Smart could stop Staten one on one.

    He was able to get shots in every one on one situation he had which is why Okie State went to the 2-1-2 three quarter court trap defense that was meant to slow WV and Staten.

    It worked as they took WV out of sync on several trips down the floor and forced Staten to give the ball up in pushing it up the floor.

    The difference was Henderson, who inexplicably tried play outside his game again and Okie States athleticism. It seemed that when they needed a big shot, they willed their way to the basket and got one.

    It also seemed that WV players were in awe of Smart from the get go, so much so that when he went to the bench WV players relaxed as if they could outplay a Smartless OK state team.

    Once ALL the players on this team understand the team concept and start playing for 40 minutes, they will get some wins. While they will likely end up as a 7-9 seed in the tournament, I don't think many top seeds will look at this team as an easy win.

  • Barry

    Staten is a great Point Guard. I wondered how he would do against Smart and he had a great game. The sky is the limit for this young man.

    • Aaron

      I was impressed yesterday with the way he played, to the point that I do believe he has a future beyond WVU. I just hope somebody doesn't get in his head to the point they convince him he needs leave WVU early.

      I know there's guaranteed money if you go in certain situations but I think he word be better off long term as far as playing in the league by not making same mistake Joe Alexander did.

  • WVA-1

    Been saying it all year, not bad for a bunch of freshmen and sophomores and a couple juniors.