The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 12, 2014

WVU can’t overcome OSU in final minutes

MORGANTOWN — In the end, what looked like it would be a new dawn for West Virginia University’s basketball team was nothing more than the same old story.

We could break out the clichés about WVU’s 73-72 loss to No. 11 Oklahoma State:

• Close but no cigar.

• Close only counts in horseshoes.

• Etc., etc., etc.

We’ve been there before.

WVU gets to the finish line and stumbles just before it can break the tape.

You saw it with Wisconsin, with Gonzaga, with Purdue.

And now you saw it with Oklahoma State and if WVU doesn’t find a way to win a game against a big-time team soon – the Mountaineers have not won against a Top 20 team in two years – well, they may never figure it out.

“Once again we lost a game we had, or could have had,” said guard Eron Harris. “This is a big team. Everyone is saying we can beat these teams. We CAN beat these teams. We almost beat Wisconsin. We almost beat Purdue. We almost beat Gonzaga. Every big game we’ve had we could have won.”

But they didn’t. This time, with 11 seconds left, everyone’s All-American Marcus Smart, who earlier had grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, made a nifty pass to Markel Brown, who drained a 3.

Smart had one of two double-doubles in the game, WVU’s Devin Williams also recording one with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Smart finished 22 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal.

“It isn’t what he does,” said Harris. “It’s what his will and desire to make the big play. It was the pass and the rebound that made the difference.”

After the Brown 3, WVU had time. Everyone knew Juwan Staten would have the ball.

He was having another of those great games of his, 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting at that point, that coming after a 25-point game against Texas Tech in which he made 10 of 12 shots.

All game he had been able to weave his way to the basket and this was no different, running into traffic. As he got there bodies were slammed and he took the final shot.

“There were 11 seconds,” he said when asked to explain the final drive. “I tried to get to the rim. I took the shot, but I didn’t see what happened. I don’t know if someone batted it. I just saw it bounce away. I thought I got it high enough to go over the rim, but maybe I didn’t.”

And it was over. Oh, it was over except for 0.6 seconds and a foul that didn’t matter.

“It hurts, especially when you are shooting good,” Staten said.

One shot fell, one didn’t.

Why didn’t it go in?

“I don’t know. I don’t know,” coach Bob Huggins said. “I don’t know why the ball didn’t go in. I don’t know why we didn’t tip it in when it didn’t go in. If it goes in we’re sitting around here talking about how far we’ve come. We got it at the rim. We got it at the rim with guy who has finished more goals at the rim than all our guys put together.”

Is West Virginia beginning to question whether it can beat ranked teams?

Harris says no.

“You see what we can do against big teams. We had the game. It was right there,” Harris said. “Think about what they did. They hit the shot; we missed the shot. That’s it right there.

“Every time we lose, we beat ourselves,” he continued. “It’s something we didn’t do during the course of the game that led to us having to hit a bucket to win the game. They did more right things than we did.”

Why?

That is so hard to answer, part of what happens when you lose close games.

“It might be everything, effort in practice. We’ll keep at it … practice, practice, practice. What you do in practice is what you do in a game? We have to start having people accountable for what they do in practice. Huggs will let us know,” said Harris.

This one certainly was a war.

“We have played three games in the Big 12 and I do not think I have seen three more physical contests in my career,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said.

It was physical and it was even. The rebounds showed WVU with 38, Oklahoma State with 35.

But Smart had that rebound on a free throw. You can imagine Huggins’ reaction.

“We’re standing on the foul line and all we had to do was block them out. We didn’t even think about blocking out someone who is probably a first-team All-American. We just stood there. I don’t know how you do that, but we did,” he said.

WVU had one more assist than turnover, OSU one more turnover than assist. Both teams had 8 3s. OSU had 27 field goals, WVU 24, but WVU hit 16 of 19 free throws while the Cowboys scored 11.

So now WVU is 10-5 with a 2-1 record in the Big 12 and thoughts of the NCAA Tournament grew a little bit dimmer with a quick turnaround, Texas coming into the Coliseum on Monday night.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: MLB All-Star game biggest celebration of top athletes

    You will pardon me if I find something else to do when the Pro Bowl rolls around, or if I try to find a “Three Stooges” marathon when it’s time for the NHL All-Star game. As for the NBA All-Star game, I’d rather watch a replay of a four-year-old Uruguay-Ethiopia World Cup soccer match in which I knew the outcome.
     

    July 14, 2014

  • Howes learns to ‘never settle’ as WVU administrator

    You probably don’t know much about Terri Howes, even though she is a rather high-ranking executive in the West Virginia University athletic department.
    “I like it that way,” she said, sitting in a large office at the Coliseum, decorated with pictures and memorabilia, a jar of candy sitting by the door for visitors to dip into.

    July 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Rich Rod’s return not impossible

    As you may guess, in the wake of LeBron James’ decision to let bygones be millions and return to his rooters in Cleveland, more than once was I approached with someone wanting to know if this opened the door for a return to West Virginia University of their once-reviled coach Rich Rodriguez.

    July 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Trickett best option as a leader

    In the end, West Virginia University’s decision to place the mantle of starting quarterback upon veteran Clint Trickett was less about quarterback than it was about leadership.
    This is not to say that Trickett lacks the talent to succeed as quarterback in coach Dana Holgorsen’s system.

    July 6, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads