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Oklahoma State hangs on at West Virginia

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 and the No. 11-ranked Cowboys held on for a tense 73-72 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.

West Virginia had taken the lead on guard Terry Henderson's 3-pointer 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, Mountaineer guard Juwan State, who had 20 points and 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 West Virginia with 21 points, hitting five 3-point shots, grabbing six rebounds with four assists and three blocked shots.

West Virginia was looking to take sole possession of first place in the Big 12 Conference 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 a 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 when he rose 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 jump-started 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 made two 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 eight-point lead by the Mountaineers to take it into the final two minutes of the half trailing, 37-35.

Staten, who would lead West Virginia in scoring in the first half with 12 points, hit a jumper from the free-throw line but guard Phil Forte's 3-pointer tied the score, 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 West Virginia 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 Oklahoma State kept pace.

At the 9:57 mark Williams made one of two free throws to cut Oklahoma State's lead to 56-53, but then Nash scored and the Cowboys had their biggest lead of the game, 58-53.

If the Cowboys had any idea of running away, 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 West Virginia down, 58-57.

Oklahoma State rebuilt its lead to 67-62 but Henderson, who was having his best game as a Mountaineer, shot a 3-pointer 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 on a missed free throw, then scoring on an offensive rebound off a miss by Nash as the game went under three minutes with Oklahoma State clinging to a 70-67 lead.

West Virginia pared the lead to 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 13 rebounds.

"It came down to them making the shot and us missing it," West Virginia guar Eron Harris said.

And that shot by Brown came down to an assist from Smart.

"It isn't what he does," Harris continued. "It's his will and desire to make the big play. It was the pass and the rebound that made the difference."

Brown, however, hit the game winner.

"We would have taken anything," Ford said. "A play was drawn up to try to get the ball into the paint. There was a couple different options off of the play. We were going to take whatever shot the defense gave us. If it was a shot I believed our team could make we were going to shoot the ball.

"I was not concerned whether or not we scored two or three points, it was about scoring something. Obviously that was a shot Brown could make."

NOTES: Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart recorded his fourth double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds. ... West Virginia freshman forward Devin Williams recorded his fifth career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. ... West Virginia guard Juwan Staten has put together back-to-back 20 points game and hit 17 of his last 24 shots in the process. ... With 12 points, Oklahoma State forward Markel Brown has 1,340 points in his career and needs 24 to move past Jameson Curry and into 17th place on the Cowboys' all-time scoring list.
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