Mountaineers come up short
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Because he's made it happen with such regularity of late, it was surprising Saturday when Juwan Staten didn't.
Almost shocking, in fact.
Yet there he was, West Virginia's point guard, with the ball in his hands twice in the final 30 seconds of the Mountaineers game with No. 11 Oklahoma State at the Coliseum, first with a chance to add to a two-point lead and then, finally, with a chance to simply win the game.
That he did neither and that the Mountaineers lost 73-72 to the Cowboys was certainly not Staten's fault, not after a 20-point, eight-assist, five-rebound performance during which he turned the ball over just twice.
It was just somehow shocking that he couldn't make it work out.
"Yeah,'' Bob Huggins would later say when asked if he, too, was surprised that his junior point guard couldn't come through. "He's made a bunch of them.''
This time, though, it was OSU's Markel Brown who made the clutch shot. After suffering through a 3-for-11 shooting performance that included three missed 3-pointers, the Oklahoma State senior took a pass from Marcus Smart and drained a 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds to play to give the Cowboys the lead for good.
It was then up to Staten, who time and again this season has simply controlled the basketball in the final seconds of WVU games and made things happen. He had the chance moments earlier when West Virginia had the ball with a 72-70 lead and his drive to the basket didn't go down. That could have meant a four- or five-point lead.
And when the Mountaineer had the ball again with less than 12 seconds to play and trailing by one, Staten tried to work his magic again. Again he failed, and when the Mountaineers couldn't rebound his miss the game was essentially over.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford had called timeout after Brown's shot to make sure his team, which had been switching defenses all throughout the second half, was on the same page.
"They knew exactly what was going to happen, but could they stop it?'' Ford said later. "We hadn't done a great job most of the game.''
Huggins swears he didn't even see Staten on the last play because he was watching behind the play to make sure other players were in position to get the rebound. Obviously they weren't in good enough position.
Still, the play had a chance and Staten thought it was good enough to win with, again.
"Everything happened the way we thought it would,'' Staten said. "The shot just didn't fall.''
That ruined an otherwise terrific afternoon for West Virginia, which until that point seemed ready to upset the Cowboys in front of a season-best crowd of 12,078.
The loss was the first for West Virginia (10-6, 2-1 Big 12) in league play. Oklahoma State improved to 14-2 and 2-1.
West Virginia had battled back from as much as five points down in the second half to tie the game at 67 before taking the lead on a Terry Henderson 3-pointer with 1:16 to play. A block of Le'Bryan Nash by Nathan Adrian with 1:04 left gave WVU the ball with that 72-70 lead, but the Mountaineers couldn't add to it before giving up Brown's 3-pointer.
"That was just a big-time shot,'' Staten said. "He hadn't been shooting the ball well.''
Henderson scored 21 points for West Virginia and Staten 20. Devin Williams had another double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Eron Harris suffered through a poor shooting day, missing five of his six 3-point attempts and finishing with 11 points.
Smart had 22 points, Le'Bryan Nash 18 and Brown 12 for OSU.
The loss means that West Virginia still has not beaten anyone of substance in two seasons in the Big 12, but the Mountaineers are obviously getting closer. Last season WVU's six league wins were against TCU, Texas Tech and Texas, the bottom three teams in the standings. This season's wins were again over TCU and Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers host Texas Monday night at the Coliseum.
After never trailing in the first half, West Virginia almost immediately fell behind in the second half, losing the lead on a Smart 3-pointer less than four minutes in. The Mountaineers got the lead back temporarily with eight straight points capped by a Henderson 3-pointer, 50-47.
But when Phil Forte hit a 3-pointer, Oklahoma State regained the lead and held it until West Virginia tied it at 67 with just over four minutes to play, setting up the ending.
WVU never trailed in the first half and Williams' point-blank jump shot just before the buzzer gave the Mountaineers a 41-39 lead at the break.
West Virginia jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed in the first half, although the Cowboys tied the score twice, at 24 and then again at 39 just before halftime. Aside from that, the Mountaineers led by as many as eight points (32-24) and several times by six or seven points.
Both teams shot evenly and were essentially even in rebounding and other statistics in the first half. Oklahoma State, though, was 7 of 9 from the foul line and WVU was just 2 for 2 after OSU was whistled for just three first-half fouls. When the second half began the Cowboys had as many in the first 41/2 minutes and eventually the fouls all but evened out.
No. 11 OKLAHOMA STATE 73, WEST VIRGINIA 72
FG FT Reb
OKLA. ST. Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Nash 37 7-13 4-6 1-6 1 3 18
Williams 15 1-4 0-0 1-2 0 0 2
Murphy 39 2-4 3-4 2-5 0 3 7
Brown 35 5-12 1-2 2-7 1 3 12
Smart 35 8-15 3-4 6-13 5 3 22
Clark 13 1-2 0-0 0-1 2 1 3
Forte III 22 3-9 0-0 0-0 1 2 9
Soucek 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Hammonds 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 200 27-60 11-16 13-35 10 15 73
Percentages: FG .450, FT .688
3-Point Goals: 8-20, .400 (Smart 3-5, Forte III 3-8, Clark 1-2, Brown 1-4, Hammonds 0-1)
Blocked Shots: 3 (Brown, Smart, Murphy)
Turnovers: 11 (Smart 3, Brown 2, Nash 2, Murphy 2, Williams, Hammonds)
Steals: 6 (Brown 2, Smart, Murphy, Nash, Forte III)
FG FT Reb
WVU Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Williams 38 4-8 4-6 3-13 0 2 12
Noreen 12 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 2 0
Staten 39 7-12 6-7 0-5 8 1 20
Harris 28 3-11 4-4 1-4 0 2 11
Henderson 39 7-13 2-2 4-6 4 2 21
Dibo 10 2-5 0-0 1-2 0 2 6
Adrian 7 0-3 0-0 1-2 0 4 0
Browne 14 1-3 0-0 0-1 0 1 2
Watkins 13 0-3 0-0 1-1 1 0 0
Totals 200 24-58 16-19 14-38 13 16 72
Percentages: FG .414, FT .842
3-Point Goals: 8-21, .381 (Henderson 5-7, Dibo 2-4, Harris 1-6, Staten 0-1, Browne 0-1, Adrian 0-2).
Blocked Shots: 4 (Henderson 3, Adrian)
Turnovers: 12 (Williams 4, Harris 3, Staten 2, Henderson, Watkins, Browne)
Steals: 6 (Staten 3, Henderson 2, Watkins)
Halftime score: WVU 41, Oklahoma State 39