STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma State enjoyed a strong non-conference schedule, using an aggressive defensive style to create turnovers and offensive opportunities. On Friday, the Cowboys got schooled by the template for that style of play.
Daxter Miles Jr. scored 22 points and Jevon Carter had 15 points, six assists and four steals to lead No. 11 West Virginia to a 92-75 victory over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
Nathan Adrian added nine points and eight rebounds for West Virginia (12-1, 1-0), which won its eighth straight. Six Mountaineers scored at least nine points.
“I think our pressure, that’s what we do, I think it’s the key to every game,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We give up some easy baskets because we take chances, if we’re not turning them over and creating easy baskets for ourselves, then it’s going in the wrong direction for us.”
Phil Forte scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead Oklahoma State, which saw its four-game winning streak snapped. Leyton Hammonds had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Cowboys (10-3, 0-1).
“We lost to a really, really good basketball team today,” said Cowboys coach Brad Underwood, who was unable to secure his 100th career win. “They’re very good, that was on full display. Their press makes the game ugly, it’s never going to be pretty against them. You have to make basketball plays and I didn’t think we guarded very well.”
With a mark of 99-17, Underwood, who served as an assistant under Huggins at Kansas State in 2006-07, would have tied Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp as the third-fastest NCAA coach to reach that milestone.
Oklahoma State scored the game’s first basket and then made just two of its next 11 shots from the field, as West Virginia built up a 19-7 lead in the first 7:35. Oklahoma State managed to pull within 29-23 with 7:16 left in the first half, but for most of the game West Virginia held a double-digit lead.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers’ relentless defensive pressure stifled the potent Oklahoma State offense that entered the game ranking third in the nation at 93.3 points per game, and forced the Cowboys into committing 19 turnovers, their second-most of the season. West Virginia tops the nation, averaging 26.3 turnovers forced coming in, and in steals (13.9), although it only managed eight steals Friday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys still have some work to do, as they were never really competitive in this game. Their potent offense had a difficult time with West Virginia’s pressure defense and they struggled to consistently stop the Mountaineers on defense, allowing them to shoot 55 percent (33 of 60) from the field, the Cowboys’ second-worst defensive performance of the season.
With another impressive performance, West Virginia solidified its place at No. 11, and if No. 1 Villanova defeats No. 10 Creighton on Saturday, it could move into the Top 10 for the first time this season after finishing last season at No. 8.
Oklahoma State, which received votes in last week’s poll, did not take advantage of an opportunity to prove to voters that it belonged in the Top 25.
Trailing 41-28 at halftime, Oklahoma State started the second half on a 7-2 run to pull within eight, and maintained that deficit for several minutes, trailing 48-40 after Jawun Evans made two free throws with 15:55 remaining. But West Virginia pulled away after that, reeling off a 13-3 run over the next 4 minutes to re-establish control. The Cowboys did not get closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
HE SAID IT
“They make you see things differently,” Underwood said of West Virginia’s pressuring style. “It’s not about Xs and Os and how pretty your offense looks. It’s about toughness, it’s about getting punched in the jaw, and how do you respond? They speed you up, they create anxiety. How do you handle that? We got a ways to go.”
West Virginia will face another hot team on the road when they travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech on Tuesday.
Oklahoma State goes on the road Wednesday to face Texas.
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