No. 7 West Virginia rallies for 12th straight win
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — West Virginia and Oklahoma State played to their defensive personalities Friday night, pressuring and harassing each other for 40 minutes.
The seventh-ranked Mountaineers maintained their profile, however, while the Cowboys faltered late at one of their greatest strengths - free throw shooting - allowing West Virginia to surge to its 12th straight win, 85-79.
Teddy Allen scored 15 points in his Big 12 debut, leading six West Virginia players in double figures. Allen scored 13 in the second half, helping the Mountaineers (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) erase a seven-point deficit.
″(My teammates) were getting me ready and just telling me, it’s a whole different game than the games we’ve played,” Allen said. “I kind of just mentally prepared and had some good practices. I was ready.”
Oklahoma State (10-3, 0-1) got 17 points each from Jeffrey Carroll and Tavarius Shine, but the Cowboys made just 11 of 19 free throws in the second half, after entering the game as the nation’s No. 2 free throw shooting team (80.5 percent).
Carroll, an 80.6 percent free throw shooter, missed five of 10 shots from the line in the second half.
“I really don’t miss free throws like that,” Carroll said. “Just focus.”
The Mountaineers got 13 points from Sagaba Konate, 12 each from Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr., 11 from Lamont West and 10 from James Bolden
Both teams claim defensive identities - and it showed, as each reached a season-high for turnovers. West Virginia forced 21 turnovers and Oklahoma State 18, and the teams combined for 22 steals.
“They play a hell of a D,” Miles said. “They play great defense, but I think we started executing offense toward the end of the game when we needed it most.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers appeared in trouble, trailing by nine in the first half and seven after intermission, but grinded their way to the win in typical fashion - with their attacking defense. They won a road Big 12 opener for the fifth time in six years.
Oklahoma State: Picked for last in the Big 12 preseason poll, the Cowboys have played well in Mike Boynton’s first season as coach. Each of their three losses have come against top-10 teams: No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 7 West Virginia and No. 8 Wichita State. Pushing the Mountaineers to the end should give them confidence going forward into conference play.
West Virginia remains on the road and won’t even return to Morgantown, instead heading to Manhattan, Kansas, for a New Year’s Day game against Kansas State. The Mountaineers annually open the Big 12 schedule with back-to-back road games, designed to kick out two trips before school resumes from holiday break.
Oklahoma State stays in state, but heads on the road nonetheless, visiting No. 12 Oklahoma on Wednesday.
HE SAID IT
Boynton on the takeaway from the loss:
“I’m proud of our guys’ effort, but in this league, effort isn’t enough. You have to make winning plays. Credit to West Virginia - they made the plays to win the game, for the most part, throughout the second half, and we didn’t. That’s on me to get corrected and get us ready for the next one. We’ll be better next time.”
Carter struggled through an off night, by his standards. The senior guard scored 12 points and handed out seven assists, yet made just 2 of 10 shots from the field and committed eight turnovers.
“This is a hard league,” Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said. “It’s a hard, hard league. He didn’t play very well, but the first thing he says when he goes in the locker room is, ‘I didn’t play well, I’m sorry, but we won and I’m happy.’ That’s rhetoric for some people. He means it. He’s a guy who loves to win. Everybody is going to have a bad day every once in a while. That’s probably, numbers-wise, as bad as he’s played in four years. He’s never had eight turnovers before.”
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