Morgantown, WV (Sports Network) - Still hurting from a heart-breaking, double- overtime loss, the 14th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys attempt to get back on the winning track on Saturday afternoon when they take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in a Big 12 Conference bout at WVU Coliseum.
Oklahoma State went to overtime in both of its games on its recent two-game homestand, and although it beat rival Oklahoma last Saturday (84-79), the squad was outlasted by nationally-ranked Kansas on Wednesday, 68-67. The setback snapped a seven-game win streak for the Cowboys, who are 19-6 overall and just a game out of first place in the Big 12 with a 9-4 conference mark.
West Virginia faced a difficult task on Monday night traveling to nationally- ranked Kansas State, and it fell in a 71-61 final for its second loss in the last three games. The mini-slide has come on the heels of three straight wins for the Mountaineers, who have been able to tread water in their first season as a member of the Big 12 (13-13, 6-7).
In the first meeting between these two teams since 1959, OSU defeated WVU in Stillwater on Jan. 26, 80-66, to even the all-time series at 1-1.
The Cowboys were involved in a thrilling back-and-forth matchup with Kansas earlier in the week, but in a game that featured 16 ties and 23 lead changes, the Jayhawks had the final say in double OT. Markel Brown came through in the clutch for Oklahoma State, shooting 7-of-15 from the field for 20 points. Conversely, Marcus Smart was terrible from the field (2-of-14), but went 11- of-14 at the foul line for 16 points while adding seven rebounds and two steals before fouling out. Phil Forte provided some life off the bench with 13 points. On the season, OSU ranks fourth in the Big 12 both in both scoring offense (72.7 ppg) and scoring defense (61.8 ppg), which results in a +10.9 scoring margin bested only by Kansas at the moment. Smart has established himself as one of the nation's elite playmakers, contributing across the board with 15.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.9 spg and 0.8 bpg, and although he suffered a sprained ankle against Kansas, he is listed as probable for this matchup. Brown leads the team in scoring with 15.9 ppg, while Le'Bryan Nash (13.1 ppg) and Forte (11.3 ppg) have also been consistent contributors.
The Mountaineers were stifled by K-State's top-ranked defense earlier this week, as they shot just 40.5 percent from the field (including 4-of-13 from 3- point range) en route to the 10-point defeat. Deniz Kilicli was on point, shooting 6-of-8 from the field for 16 points, while Juwan Staten (eight points, eight assists) and Aaric Murray (nine points, nine rebounds) were both on the verge of double-doubles. Despite getting outshot from the field by its opponent, .409 to .435, WVU still outscore the opposition (+0.3 scoring margin) by boasting positive margins in both rebounding (+2.0) and turnovers (+1.6). Although it is without a double-digit scorer, the team benefits from having a deep rotation, with seven players averaging at least 6.5 ppg. Murray leads the team with 9.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg, and he is a solid defender as well with 1.5 bpg and nearly a steal per contest. Kilicli, Staten and Eron Harris all net between 8.6 and 8.8 ppg.