STILLWATER, Okla. — Confident and hot-handed, Eron Harris maximized his time on the court Saturday against No. 11 Oklahoma State.
Too bad for West Virginia he didn’t have more of it.
Harris scored 21 points in 21 minutes of action, a performance abbreviated when he fouled out with 3:35 left in the Mountaineers’ 81-75 loss.
“You know, it’s hard when we lose Eron,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose program has suffered 16 consecutive losses against ranked teams. “Eron gets 21 in 21 minutes, so losing him for us is like (Oklahoma State) losing Marcus Smart.”
Remember the second-half bombs Harris lobbed at Iowa State as a freshman? Or the seven 3-pointers he sank in Cancun against Wisconsin? Harris claimed he felt even more honed-in during Saturday’s 6-of-7 barrage from 3-point range.
“This game was probably the most confidence I’ve ever played with this season, and probably ever.”
Twice WVU seemed on the brink of unraveling: Trailing 42-35 at the half after OSU energized the Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd back to its feet, and falling behind 70-61 with five minutes left after Smart shook free for a layup that became his lone basket.
On both occasions, Harris resuscitated his team right back into contention.
He scored all of West Virginia’s points in a 9-2 run that opened the second half (making two 3-pointers and canning three free throws after being fouled in the act of another). Then, when OSU stretched the cushion to nine points late, Harris banged back-to-back 3s to make it a one-possession game.
After the second one he clapped emphatically and growled while retreating on defense. But a mere 12 seconds later, he was called for his fifth foul—a bit of glancing body contact as Markel Brown drove the lane for the and-1.
A wide-eyed Huggins stared at the officials with his palms up. Harris sprinted toward the bench and took a seat, looking confounded.
He wasn’t up for disputing the call after the game, either. “It is what it is. They called it. I can’t control what they called. I got fouled out.”