STILLWATER, Okla. — Rewind to that nip-and-tuck afternoon Jan. 11 in Morgantown, when Marcus Smart added to his All-American credentials with 22 points and 13 rebounds in Oklahoma State’s 73-72 victory.
Yet no stats factored into his last-second, game-saving hustle—a sequence Bob Huggins described as “the play of the year.”
The Cowboys clung to a one-point edge as Juwan Staten’s twisting layup spun off the rim. Though West Virginia’s best rebounder, 6-foot-8 freshman Devin Williams, was in position for the follow-up tip, the 6-4 Smart got hand on the ball to jar the rebound loose.
Williams wound up flat-backed on the court in disbelief while Smart and Oklahoma State celebrated a tense road victory.
“From where he came from to break up the rebound attempt from Devin Williams, that’s a player,” Huggins said. “That’s a guy who continues to play.”
Saturday’s rematch at Gallagher-Iba Arena finds the programs seemingly on different planets, with Oklahoma State ranked 11th in the AP poll and WVU having lost three out of four, yet the Mountaineers sit only a half-game back in the Big 12 standings.
After edging Texas Tech 7-81 on Wednesday night, Eron Harris and his teammates recalled the close call two weeks ago.
“Let’s go beat Oklahoma State,” Harris said, “because we owe them one.”
SCOUTING OKLAHOMA STATE
Tipoff: Saturday 2 p.m. in Stillwater, Okla. (ESPN2)
Records: The No. 11 Cowboys (15-3, 3-2) haven’t played since last Saturday’s 80-78 loss at Kansas and should be fresh after taking the next two days off. … The Mountaineers (11-8, 3-3), who had a light practice Thursday in order to get their legs back, are 0-7 against the RPI top 106 this season.
RPIs: Oklahoma State is No. 13 and WVU is No. 103.
Coach: Travis Ford (276-213 overall in 17 seasons) owns a 119-67 record in his sixth season with the Cowboys, including a 1-3 mark in three NCAA tournament berths.
OSU top players:Smart has taken over the league lead in scoring (17.8) and continues to be the runaway leader in steals (2.6). In the four games since forward Michael Cobbins was lost to a season-ending Achilles injury, Smart has averaged 10.5 rebounds. Detractors are nitpicking his game by claiming he’s an exaggerated flopper. … Athletic guard Markel Brown (16.8 points per game) has scored in double figures every game save one this season. He nearly came up short in Morgantown before his decisive 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left gave him 12 points. … Le’Bryan Nash (13.3 points, 5.9 rebounds) scored 18 in the first meeting, and watch out for sixth man Phil Forte, who drained 7-of-10 from 3-point range against Kansas. The sophomore is now making 50 percent from behind the line.
WVU roster notes: Eron Harris (17.4 points) and Juwan Staten (17.2) are third and fourth in Big 12 scoring, while Staten tops the conference in assists (5.95) and ranks fourth in field-goal shooting (52.8 percent). The point guard also pulls down 5.8 rebounds a game, the same average as Kansas phenom Andrew Wiggins. … In the mother of all bounce-back games, Terry Henderson scored a career-high 28 against Texas Tech, and he did it with an even split of five baskets from 3-point range and five from inside the line. The guard also has blocked a shot in six consecutive games after having six all of last season. … We’ll watch to see if Remi Dibo has climbed out of Huggins’ doghouse. The 6-9 forward did not see action against Texas Tech after making too many errors in the morning shoot-around.