Cam McGriff’s goggles made an appearance for the first time ever, in the Cowboys’ big road win. Per Dave Hunziker, today’s win marks the first time in OSU history that the Pokes have won back-to-back top twenty road games.
Oklahoma State and West Virginia set the tone for a classic OSU-WVU basketball game. Just like when the Mountaineers played the Cowboys at home, they started the game with their signature full court press, and as Fran Fraschilla called it, “random traps.” The hard defense played to the Cowboys’ advantage as it allowed them to make football passes down court and attack down low. Mitchell Solomon led the way for the Cowboys through the first four minutes.
Oklahoma State out hustled WVU in transition, providing some “too easy” baskets. The Mountaineers wanted to slow down the pace, while the Pokes wanted to get a shot up in the first seven seconds. OSU mixed up defensive schemes going zone and man at times. The Mountaineers seemed to have no problem with attacking the zone, getting under the hoop, and even drawing a foul. Oklahoma State turned it over five times, while West Virginia rebounded well over half of their misses.
In the first eight minutes, the Pokes attempted just one 3-pointer. Tavarius Shine changed that with a missed three. Shine missed time of late due to a wrist injury. Mike Boynton indicated, to John Holcomb in the OSU Radio Pregame Show, Shine’s limited availability. When the Mountaineers made it seem that they were running away, Oklahoma State answered. Consecutive buckets from McGriff kept the Cowboys hot offensively. For much of the first half, OSU played beautiful offense. McGriff sported glasses for the first time this season, and they seemed to be a good-luck charm. After 12 minutes, McGriff picked up 12 points and five boards.
West Virginia played softer defense for the final portion of the first half. With that being said, the offensive brilliance that the Cowboys showed started to disappear as well. West Virginia fans would agree that the whistles blew in favor of the Cowboys. The mundane Mountaineer fans easily made themselves heard after a foul. When the Cowboys led by two possessions, they seemed to get a tad too comfortable when it came to defense. The Pokes could not get going around the arc shooting 3-10. OSU gave WVU a taste of their own medicine, turning the ball over just five times, grabbing 14 boards and scoring under the basket. Eight ties and nine lead changes highlighted the first half.
HALFTIME OSU 36 WVU 39
The first part of the second half showed that it’s game-changing nature. West Viriginia got out in front 52-46. One point of continuity for OSU is second half woes. It’s been the thorn in the Cowboys’ side. The Cowboys had just five turnovers in the first half. Within six minutes of the second half, OSU recored three turnovers.
While the Cowboys struggled around the arc, they kicked out time after time in the second half, opening the door for a West Virginia lead. Shine’s limited time provided small, yet valuable sparks for the Cowboys. With just over 11 minutes to go, he forced a WVU back court violation.
Oklahoma State continued their turnover string, as Lindy Waters through the ball into the press row seat next to Dave Hunziker. Cowboy and Mountaineer fans alike have seen the movie before. WVU starts out with hard defense, OSU does the same … both teams switch to zone after halftime … the zone plays to WVU’s advantage.
Kendall Smith took a long rest, and as Brandon Averette ran the point, he recored the Cowboys’ tenth turnover. Fraschilla called the Cowboys “sloppy” in the second half. Back court violations, and numerous turnovers led to that moniker. A stretch of game showed both teams playing as fast as they possibly could. Oklahoma State went down low and drew a foul to sound the TV-timeout buzzer. The foul came at the perfect time giving all parties a breather.
Solomon picked up his fourth foul at the 5:22 mark. Solomon’s frustration was evident when the television cameras closed in on his face. What helped the Cowboys the most, turnovers, in the first half, hurt them immensely in the second.
The Cowboys hung tough with West Virginia through the home stretch of the ball game. What was a mundane Mountaineer fan base got back into the game for the last five minutes, but a few OSU buckets forced them to pipe down. Then, McGriff fouled out of the game. He had fun with the West Virginia “right left” chant making them yell “sit down!” as a free throw was shot. Jevon Carter led the way for the Mountaineers. No other WVU player seemed to have much of a presence in the game.
The last 97 seconds of the game provided great intensity. Waters came in clutch, as he has on numerous occasions in his OSU career, with a three to tie the game at 81. Carter didn’t let go of his heroics making clutch free throws with just over a minute to go. Just as the WVU fans went bonkers, Waters drained a corner three, sending the Cowboy bench through the roof. Jeffery Carroll threw down the dagger for the Pokes in the key Big 12 win. The Cowboys have soared past the NCAA Tournament bubble.
FINAL OSU 88 WVU 85
UP NEXT OSU returns home Wednesday night for a 6:00 game with Kansas State.
Photo via Twitter // @osumbb