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Forte helps Oklahoma State top No. 7 West Virginia 82-75

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Phil Forte stepped up again at a key moment for Oklahoma State.

Forte scored all 13 of his points in the second half to lead the Cowboys to an 82-75 victory over No. 7 West Virginia.

Oklahoma State (15-8, 4-6 Big 12) has the league’s longest winning streak at five after No. 2 Baylor and No. 3 Kansas both lost on Saturday.

“Phil’s our leader,” Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said. “He’d been on a roll and been playing extremely well and then he does exactly what a senior does. It’s because of his leadership, a big part of the reason we’re turning this thing around.”

In a 68-66 win over Oklahoma on Monday, Forte hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11 seconds to play.

Against the Mountaineers, Forte scored nine points over the final 5 minutes and Oklahoma State shot 62.5 percent (25 of 40) from the floor for the game.

West Virginia (18-5, 6-4) had a chance to move into a second-place tie with Baylor, but couldn’t match the production of Forte and Jawun Evans down the stretch.

Evans’ driving layup put Oklahoma State ahead to stay at 71-69 with 4:17 left, and Lindy Waters’ 3-pointer and four free throws by Evans helped the Cowboys to a 78-74 lead.

Forte, a 94 percent free-throw shooter, sealed the win by making all four of his tries from the line in the final minute.

“We knew not to foul him,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We knew not to leave him open. And we did both.”

Jeffrey Carroll led the Cowboys with 20 points, but he had only three after halftime. Evans finished with 18.

Redshirt freshman Lamont West scored a season-high 21 points for West Virginia, and Tarik Phillip had 15.

Oklahoma State’s defense allowed few inside scoring chances early on, and that was just fine with West, who loitered around the perimeter and made five 3-pointers in the first half.

In turn, forward Esa Ahmad, West Virginia’s leading scorer who usually thrives in the lane, didn’t have a shot attempt until the second half, played just 14 minutes and went scoreless on 0-of-3 shooting.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys finally beat a team in the AP poll after losing their previous four tries this season. The win could help Oklahoma State earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers have double-digit home wins over Baylor and Kansas and were coming off another solid performance in an 85-72 victory at Iowa State on Tuesday. But the loss to the Cowboys was another example of their struggles against the league’s lower-tier teams.

“I just feel like we took them lightly,” West said.

West Virginia fell to 3-4 against teams in fifth place or worse in the league.

NO BOARDS

West Virginia was held to a season-low 16 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.

“I can’t remember getting beat that bad on the glass,” Huggins said.

BETTER ON D

Oklahoma State has improved its defense considerably, allowing 70 points per game during the winning streak compared to 86 points in the previous six games. West Virginia, averaging nearly 88 points per game, had two field goals in the final 4 minutes.

“You make a change and hope it helps and that your guys can gain some confidence,” Underwood said. “But I think it speaks tremendous volumes to the character of our locker room and the guys in it and who they are as people and who they are as teammates.”

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State hosts Baylor on Wednesday. The Bears beat the Cowboys 61-57 on Jan. 7 in Waco, Texas.

West Virginia plays at Oklahoma on Wednesday. The Mountaineers lost to the Sooners 89-87 in overtime on Jan. 18 in Morgantown.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.