Oklahoma St.-West Virginia Preview

The Associated Press

Two of the Big 12's highest-scoring duos will be on display this weekend in Morgantown.

Oklahoma State's tandem of Markel Brown and Marcus Smart gave West Virginia its share of problems last season.

The Mountaineers will see if they can fare better in Saturday's matchup with the No. 11 Cowboys now that Juwan Staten is in the starting lineup.

Oklahoma State (13-2, 1-1) won by an average of 15.0 points in two meetings with West Virginia (10-5, 2-0) last season, with Brown totaling 40 points and Smart 27.

"They are the most athletic team that we've played to this point and we've got to somehow keep them out of transition," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "Smart's terrific and does so many things for them."

Brown and Smart combine to average 34.6 points to rank third in the Big 12. That's not as high as Mountaineers star guards Staten and Big 12 leading scorer Eron Harris, who are combining to average a conference-best 35.3.

"They're a team that is off to a 2-0 start in the league," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "They have a great backcourt. One of the top backcourts in the country. They have high scoring guards."

Harris is much improved after he totaled 23 points versus the Cowboys as a freshman in 2012-13. Staten is also a vastly better player than he was then as a reserve who totaled eight points on 1-of-11 shooting against Oklahoma State.

Huggins does not feel his team will have an advantage now that Cowboys starting center Michael Cobbins has been lost for the season due to a ruptured Achilles. Cobbins totaled 17 points and 16 rebounds in 2012-13 against West Virginia.

Cobbins led the team in blocks when he went down Dec. 30 in a 92-66 rout of Robert Morris. Kamari Murphy has totaled six blocks in the two games since he joined the starting lineup.

"I thought it would at first be maybe a little easier around the goal for people but I don't know if it is," Huggins said. "Murphy is a heck of a shot blocker. They're all so athletic and so quick to the ball. Smart has made some just eye-popping blocks. I think that's probably the biggest thing, he (Cobbins) was their rim protector."

Smart enters off a tremendous all-around effort in Wednesday's 87-74 victory over Texas. He finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and five assists.

''I thought he gave an incredible, Marcus Smart performance tonight,'' Ford said. ''You look at the stat line - it's ridiculous.''

Brown led the way with 27 points and the two stars combined for 34 foul shots.

West Virginia won 89-86 in overtime at Texas Tech on Monday. Staten scored 25 points and Harris added 18 as the team shot 55.7 percent.

The Mountaineers will try to avoid a third straight home defeat in their first Big 12 game in Morgantown. The WVU Coliseum is normally considered a difficult place to play, but West Virginia went 3-6 at home in conference play in its first Big 12 season in 2012-13.

Oklahoma State leads the conference in defensive field-goal percentage at 37.9 while West Virginia is more vulnerable at 41.6 to rank eighth.

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