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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.

No. 13 Oregon embarrasses No. 5 Arizona, moves into tie for first in the Pac-12

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Tyler Dorsey scored 23 points and went 6-for-6 from three as No. 13 Oregon humiliated No. 5 Arizona in Eugene on Saturday afternoon, 85-58.

That final score makes the game seem much closer than it actually was. Oregon was up 38-11 15 minutes into the game and 62-27 at one point in the second half. They threw more casual alley-oops than the Harlem Globetrotters. They made 16 of their first 21 threes. With five minutes left in the first half, Oregon had 10 assists to Arizona’s 11 points while the Wildcats had made five field goals and used three timeouts.

This was a mollywhopping in every sense of the word.

Here are the three things to know after this game:

1. Oregon at their best can beat anyone: Arizona is a top five team in the country. They were 21-2 entering Saturday. They were undefeated in Pac-12 play and had won a game in Pauley Pavilion. There was talk that the Wildcats were the best team in college basketball, so when we say that Oregon at their best can beat anyone in the country, this win proves it. It could very well have come against the best team in college basketball.

The most impressive part wasn’t the shooting. They finished the night 16-for-25 from three after missing their final four shots from beyond the arc, which is particularly impressive when you consider that Oregon was a team where we were worried about their perimeter shooting in November and December. But the thing about this win that stood out more than anything else was their defense. The Ducks are a top 20 defense and the best defensive team in the Pac-12, but they also got lit up by Arizona State’s guards on Thursday night.

And Arizona?

Their back court is as talented as any back court in the country. This looked like a matchup that the Wildcats could exploit, except the exact opposite happened. The Wildcats had 18 points at the half and 27 points midway through the second half. They couldn’t do anything offensively, and while part of that was their own doing, much of the credit belongs to the Ducks.

2. Oregon moves into first place in the Pac-12: Well, a tie for first place.

With Arizona.

Which is notable because a win for Arizona in this game would have all-but clinched the Pac-12 regular season title for the Wildcats. They would have held a two-game lead with seven games left, and the only matchup left on their schedule with one of the top three teams in the conference comes at home against UCLA. The Ducks play at UCLA.

Instead, the two teams are tied atop the standings today. Arizona is probably still the favorite to win it – that road trip to UCLA is not going to be easy – but the bottom line is that this is going to be a battle the rest of the way.

3. As for Arizona, s*** happens: That’s about all you can take away from this game. Oregon was just so unbelievably good and Arizona was such a trainwreck. The team that showed up in Eugene for Sean Miller is not the team that Arizona has been all season long.

It’s just one of those things that happens in college basketball.

If there is a concern here, it’s that Arizona never had a response. They got punched in mouth and never fought back, instead choosing to sit there and take blow after blow after on the chin. That’s worrisome, and it’s worth wondering whether that’s an issue of leadership or just part of the deal when it comes to relying on three freshmen and a sophomore as heavily as Arizona does.

The bottom line for Arizona is this: There is no shame in losing at Oregon. They weren’t supposed to. The Ducks are good, and they have the nation’s longest home-court winning streak at 40 games. They will be just fine as long as they don’t let this loss have a hangover effect.

Kansas State lands massive win at No. 2 Baylor

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No. 2 Baylor had three shots in the paint in the final 10 seconds to complete a comeback from 19 points down at home against Kansas State but was unable to make any of them, losing 56-54 to the Wildcats.

Johnathan Motley finished with 17 points and 14 boards, but he had two point-blank chances to tie the game on the final possession and missed them both.

Kansas State got 15 points and four assists from Kamau Stokes while Wesley Iwundu added 12 points, eight boards and five assists. They were up 37-18 with four minutes left in the first half and 46-28 with 15 minutes left in the game, but Baylor’s defense completely stifled Kansas State down the stretch.

Here are three things we learned in this game:

1. Kansas State finally breaks through: Entering the day, the Wildcats were just 2-7 against the RPI top 100 and sitting squarely on the bubble. They had lost at Kansas thanks to a travel-enhanced layup at the buzzer by Svi Mylhailiuk. They lost at Texas Tech in a game where they were on the wrong of a couple calls down the stretch. They badly needed this win, and, somehow, they were able to hang on. For now, this win probably takes Kansas State off the bubble.

2. Baylor blew their chance to make up ground on Kansas: Kansas losing a home game was the opportunity that Baylor needed to make up ground on the Jayhawks after the Bears lost at Phog Allen on Wednesday. If they hadn’t blown this game, they would currently be sitting in a tie for first place in the conference with the Jayhawks with a head-to-head home matchup with them left on the schedule. That’s the dream scenario. An outright Big 12 title would have been Baylor’s to win. Now that can’t happen unless Kansas loses again.

3. This win says more about Kansas State than Baylor: The Wildcats are a good team, one that has been on the wrong side of some bad luck this season. This was the win that proved it, that legitimized their chances of getting to the NCAA tournament. Baylor’s lost just twice this season – at West Virginia and at Kansas – and has put together one of the best résumés in the sport. They are not a fluke, and the Wildcats mollywhopped them for 25 minutes on Saturday.

They also probably should have blown that lead down the stretch, which is why I’m not all that concerned about Baylor’s performance. Sometimes weird things happen in college basketball. Kansas blew a 15-point lead at home today. Virginia blew a 12-point halftime lead. Oregon hit a million threes and, at one point, led Arizona by 35 points. The Bears dug themselves a hole and very nearly crawled all the way out.

I’d go as far as to say that I’m more bothered by the fact that Baylor couldn’t complete the comeback than the fact that they needed to make a comeback. It’s good to know they’re capable of making a run like this when they’re not a team that’s built around uptempo offense or three-point shooting. They made that run, but they missed two shots from within three feet in the final 6.4 seconds that would’ve tied the game; that doesn’t count the 10-foot pull-up jumper that Lecomte missed because he was trying to draw a foul.

(UPDATE: Since Baylor fans are crushing me for this, let me be more clear in my point. Yes, Baylor came back from 22 points down to win against Louisville, but that comeback was a slow-grind. It wasn’t a deviation from what they normally do, they just actually did it well in the second half. Against Kansas State, they were down by 11 points with 3:30 left. Baylor is a slow-paced, defensive-oriented program team that pounds the ball inside, doesn’t shoot many threes and doesn’t force many turnovers. That’s the opposite of what’s ideal when you’re trying to rally from a big deficit late in a game, but the Bears were still able to make it happen on Saturday.)

VIDEO: Accidental trip puts Grayson Allen back in the spotlight

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Grayson Allen tripped a player again today, but if anyone tells you it was anything other than one of those things that in the course of a basketball game, they aren’t being truthful.

Allen reached in and tried to get a steal on Pitt’s Jamel Artis. Artis went to the ground, seemingly tripping over Allen’s foot. The internet explodes because that’s what the internet does, and every sports website is legally required to post it:

On the one hand, I feel bad for Allen that people go crazy every time one of his extremities does something awkward. For comparison’s sake, Dillon Brooks of Oregon kicked a dude in the, ahem, nether regions two weeks before the worst flop in the history of flops, and I’d be willing to bet that 95 percent of people sitting in any sports bar in the country wouldn’t know who Brooks is.

Every single one of them know who Allen is.

On the other hand, he tripped people three times. Being the “Evil White Duke Player” has enhanced his reputation, but he’d still be a guy that the public at large didn’t like if he played at Boston College instead of Duke.

He made his bed. Now he’s sleeping in it.

POSTERIZED: Harry Giles III’s alley-oop dunk shows glimpse of his potential

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This is the Harry Giles III that everyone saw in high school. This is a glimpse of who he was before the knee issues.

The scary part?

On the very next possession, Giles hit a 19-foot jumper.

Water issues force postponement, move of UNC-Notre Dame game

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The game between No. 12 North Carolina and No. 20 Notre Dame scheduled for Saturday in Chapel Hill has been postponed a day and moved to Greensboro due to a water shortage.

In a news release Friday evening, UNC said the game – originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Smith Center – would be played at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The postponement comes after the water system supplying the Chapel Hill campus and surrounding area instructed its 20,000 customers not to drink or use the water due to critically low supplies, brought on by a water-main break and the shutdown of a treatment plant. Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger has declared a state of emergency, while the school canceled classes Friday afternoon as well as the pregame news conference for Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.

In an email to The Associated Press, UNC spokesman Steve Kirschner said the Tar Heels would spend the night in nearby Durham – home to rival Duke.

Notre Dame spokesman Alan Wasielewski said the team was originally going to fly in late Friday afternoon. Now the Fighting Irish will fly down Saturday morning to Raleigh and then take a bus for the roughly 65-mile drive to Greensboro.

While the Tar Heels will still have a home-state crowd, the building certainly offers positive vibes for the Irish. Notre Dame went through both Duke and UNC to win the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament there for the program’s first basketball title in any league.

This is UNC’s second postponement in nine games. Last month, an ice storm led UNC to push its home game against rival North Carolina State back a day.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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