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Oklahoma State 73, West Virginia 72

The SportsXchange

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Oklahoma State forward Markel Brown made a 3-point shot off a pass from guard Marcus Smart with 11.6 seconds left as the No. 11-ranked Cowboys held on for a tense 73-72 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday.

West Virginia had taken the lead on guard Terry Henderson's 3 with 1:14 left in the game and preserved it when freshman forward Nate Adrian blocked forward Le'Bryan's Nash's shot, causing a jump ball that gave the Mountaineers possession.

However, WVU guard Juwan State, who had scored 20 points with eight assists, missed a driving layup that would have given the Mountaineers the victory.

Smart led the Cowboys with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Nash scored 18.

Henderson led WVU with 21 points, hitting 5 3-point shots, grabbing six rebounds with four assists and three blocks.

West Virginia was looking to take sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with a third consecutive conference victory after a disappointing five-loss non-conference run.

The Mountaineers knew it would not be an easy chore.

"They are the most athletic team we have played to this point," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.

And it was Smart leading the way.

"Smart is terrific, does so many things for them, but they have lot of guys who that are extremely athletic," Huggins said. "(Kaman) Murphy is a heck of a shot blocker and they are all so quick to the ball. Smart has made some just eye-popping blocks."

That West Virginia was ready for whatever Oklahoma State was going to throw at them was obvious from the start as it jumped off to a 6-2 start but Smart turned things around as he skied to block a shot by the Mountaineers guard Eron Harris, then came down to score an easy basket.

But if the Cowboys thought that had jumpstarted them they were wrong as guard Juwan Staten scored on a nifty feed from Henderson, then stole the ball from Smart, was fouled by him and canned a pair of free throws to increase the WVU advantage to 10-4.

Oklahoma State wasn't going to be intimidated on the road and continued to battle, wiping out an 8-point lead by the Mountaineers to take it into the final two minutes of the half down by two, 37-35.

Staten, who would lead WVU in scoring in the first half with 12 points, hit a jumper from the free-throw line but guard Phil Forte's 3 tied the score at 39-39.

The Cowboys had a chance to take a lead into the locker room but a Henderson stole the ball from Smart.

Following a timeout, Huggins ran a set play for forward Devin Williams, who scored a short jump shot to give WVU a 41-39 advantage at intermission.

Not much changed through the first 10 minutes of the second half as Henderson continued to assert himself for West Virginia while OSU kept pace.

At the 9:57 mark Williams of WVU made one of two free throws and OSU was ahead 56-53, but then Nash scored and OSU had its biggest lead of the game at 58-53.

If the Cowboys had any idea of running away here it ended as Henderson, who was dong a little bit of everything made a difficult steal and set up Staten for a fast-break layup and foul to leave WVU down, 58-57.

Once more OSU built a five-point lead at 67-62 but Henderson, who was having his best game as a Mountaineer, shot a 3 that hit off the front of the rim, bounced around and went in.

Staten followed with a driving layup that gave him 20 points and tied the game, 67-67.

Smart, however, asserted himself, first grabbing an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, then scoring on an offensive rebound off a miss by Nash as the game went under 3 minutes, OSU was clinging to a 70-67 lead.

Once again WVU pared the lead to a point at 70-69 as Staten drove and made a slick pass to Williams, who scored a layup to give him a double-double with 12 points and rebounds.
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