The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

February 22, 2013

Seeking signature win

Mountaineers don’t have win vs. RPI top 60

MORGANTOWN — If West Virginia University is ever going to pull off a Big 12 upset, Saturday is the day.

That’s when No. 14 Oklahoma State comes into the Coliseum for the first time, coming off an emotionally draining, 68-67, double-overtime home loss to Kansas.

The Cowboys had come into the game riding a seven-game winning streak that had put them into a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Kansas and Kansas State as the week started. K-State’s win over WVU and Kansas’ victory in this game dropped the Cowboys to third while the two Kansas teams are tied for first place.

That Oklahoma State lost at home hurt badly. How they lost really had to have sapped them, for they led by a point entering the closing seconds of a game that had been so hotly contested through regulation and two overtimes that it had been tied 16 times with no lead exceeding five points.

To add more misery, the winning shot came from 5-11 sophomore Naadir Tharpe, who had missed nine of 10 shots with four turnovers until he took the Cowboys’ Phil Forte into the lane and scored on him.

The result is coach Travis Ford faces a difficult coaching assignment, getting his team ready to play after a difficult loss while going on the road to face a team that has nothing to lose in terms of the conference race and is trying to salvage some respect from the season.

“A very hard fought game ... very hard fought game,” said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford following the game. “I’ve got no complaints. They made the last shot. ... No lie, it was a down locker room. Those were two teams that wanted to win pretty bad.”

WVU will be a team hungering for the upset, of that you can be sure.

In conference play this season, WVU has won every game played against the teams below the Mountaineers while failing to beat any team ranked above them in the standings.

In fact, the Mountaineers are winless against the top 60 RPI teams, losing all 10 of their starts against them.

“We’re due,” coach Bob Huggins said following his team’s loss at Kansas State on Monday.

It is almost certain that the Mountaineers are down to one chance to reach the NCAA Tournament, and considering the fact that they have not beaten any of the better teams in the conference to date it would appear to be an extreme long shot, for the only path left open is to win the Big 12 Tournament.

Huggins, as you might expect, is looking at that avenue.

“I don’t know that it’s over,” he said at K-State. “Who knows? We may make a run and win the Big 12 Tournament.”

And the Pirates may win the World Series … but you probably wouldn’t want to bet a month’s pay on it.

In the first meeting between the two teams at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys prevailed, 80-66, getting their boost from an unexpected source, with Forte breaking loose for an unprecedented 26-point game.

Forte hit six 3-point shots in the game as the Mountaineers had no defensive answer for him.

It would be expected that will change in a second game, especially one in Morgantown.

“Any time you play someone for the second time, it’s always a great challenge when you won the first game,” Ford said. “They want to change things.”

It happened in the Kansas game, OSU having beaten the Jayhawks earlier in the season to send them spinning off on a rare three-game losing streak, correcting enough to come back to win the return engagement.

And now Ford is facing a similar situation, with a dangerous WVU team playing on its home court and willing to make adjustments to find a way to score points.

WVU has made one adjustment in its use of Deniz Kilicli, who has become the featured player in the offense and who has been playing his best basketball of the season down the stretch of his senior year.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • WVU takes first step Thursday

    Perhaps the most used – and least factual – cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
     

    July 30, 2014

  • Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
     

    July 30, 2014

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos