MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On paper, Oklahoma State only made two more 3-pointers than West Virginia on Saturday afternoon. In person, the difference felt more like a gulf in the Cowboys’ 85-77 victory.
Oklahoma State’s late first-half flourish behind the arc helped the Cowboys pad a lead that West Virginia could never chip into. The Cowboys were 6 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half, including a string of three in a row in a 1-minute, 34-second span late in the half. Oklahoma State came into the game shooting 37.6 percent from long distance, but only 31 percent in Big 12 play.
West Virginia, on the other hand, was colder than the wintry conditions outside of WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers started the game 1-for-14 from long range.
Oklahoma State didn’t keep it up in the second half, only attempting five 3-pointers. But coach Mike Boynton said that the threat of the 3 allowed the Cowboys to create scoring opportunities closer to the basket.
“It was big for us to make some outside shots because they make it hard for you to make easy shots around the basket with so much athleticism and length,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton. “If you don’t make a few early, you get tentative and start to drive into traffic. When you’re able to make some shots, you extend their defense and you’re able to drive.”
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins felt the easy buckets were not a result of being spread out.
“Really, them spreading us didn’t hurt us as much as it hurts most people,” Huggins said. “They didn’t back-cut us… but they have a lot of skill.”
West Virginia ended up shooting 5 of 15 from 3-point range in the second half with Beetle Bolden providing all but one of the makes.
Bolden’s exploits unsurprising
Freshman forward Derek Culver can’t say he’s surprised by anything Bolden does on the floor. Despite a quiet first half – Bolden was 0-for-2 from the floor in six minutes due to foul trouble – the junior guard finished with a career-high 31 points.
“That’s just what Beetle does. Beetle makes something out of nothing,” Culver said. “Everybody on the team calls him ‘The Magician.’ He had three buckets back-to-back-to-back, and a couple were like Houdini shots. But none of it was forced. That’s just natural to him.”
Can’t keep Culver out
If you want to keep Culver out of a game, merely popping his shoulder out of the socket is not going to do the trick.
Culver missed only a minute of game time late in the second half when contact with Cowboys forward Maurice Calloo temporarily put things out of place.
“When I went up for a rebound he kind of got up under me a little bit,” Culver said. “I don’t think he did it on purpose, but he kind of rolled up under me and it pulled my shoulder away.”
Culver was helped to the locker room by a couple members of the training staff, but quickly returned.
“It popped out a little bit, but it was fine,” Culver said. “I just popped it back.”
A deceiving score
The final score may have looked like an up-and-down shootout broke out at the Coliseum, but the reality was anything but in a game with a pace that felt more suited to scoring in the high 50s or low 60s.
Oklahoma State had only 10 total assists on 27 field goals, while West Virginia had seven assists on 26 field goals. Anyone who caught a quick mid-game snooze likely missed the fast-break points, which WVU led by a 4-0 total.
The Cowboys scored 23 points at the free-throw line, and the Mountaineers 19.
A happy moment
By far the loudest cheer of the game came when new football coach Neal Brown and his family were introduced to the home crowd for the first time at the under-8 minute timeout in the first half.
Your daily dose of Neal Brown. And for some, the first dose. pic.twitter.com/ApVyhcflyZ
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) January 12, 2019
Quote of the day
“I don’t have a dog house. I’ve never had a dog house. I’m, at times, a very frustrated parent.” – Bob Huggins on his decision to bench senior Esa Ahmad and junior Wesley Harris for the entire game