No. 23 West Virginia is coming off a big week. The Mountaineers knocked off No. 8 Kansas and took care of business on the road against No. 22 Oklahoma State.
All season long there has been unlikely heroes stepping up and making an impact when West Virginia needed them most. One player, however, can’t be considered an unlikely hero, maybe more of a quiet hero or subtle leader.
Senior guard Gary Browne has been getting the job done for the Mountaineers all season long.
During the Oklahoma State game, the commentators made a comment, something along the lines of “Gary Browne is player you know exactly what you’re going to get out of him.”
That’s true and sometimes West Virginia has gotten more than what they thought they could.
A perfect example being the Mountaineers’ latest victory over Oklahoma State. Browne had a tremendous game and scored a career-high 18 points versus the Cowboys.
In the game against the Cowboys, Browne’s presence was felt. Browne went 3-9 from the floor and 3-7 from beyond the arc and 9-12 from the foul line.
But, it wasn’t just his contribution of 18 points. Browne was all over the floor, whether it was coming up with a pair of steals or continuously getting charging fouls.
Browne was also responsible for guarding the Cowboy’s Phil Forte III and he did an excellent job in keeping Forte from finding open looks and scoring. Forte, who averages 16.5 points per game, finished with just 10 points versus West Virginia.
It’s not always about how many points a player scores, it’s about what he can bring to the team even when he’s not the team’s leading scorer.
Browne is consistent. He doesn’t always get the credit he deserves because he lingers in the shadow of the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, Juwan Staten, but make no mistake Browne is excellent complement to Staten.
Browne knows what he’s doing, what needs to be done and has the ability to manage a game. Browne has been a starter for the majority of the season and against OSU he played a total of 35 minutes.
His biggest minutes came in the first half when Staten was sent to the bench after picking up two fouls in midway through the first half.
“I wanted to hold him (Staten) as much as I could until the second half,” said head coach Bob Huggins. “Gary did a great job I thought of managing the game for us as well as on Forte. Forte is hard to guard.”
More from Hail WV
- Every West Virginia potential March Madness venue in 2023 NCAA Tournament
- West Virginia March Madness Schedule: When do the Mountaineers play next? (Updated March 12)
- West Virginia vs. Kansas prediction and odds for Saturday, February 25 (Take Mountaineers as underdogs)
- WVU Football Recruiting: Mountaineers make Malik Hartford’s short list
- Previewing WVU basketball against Oklahoma State
Staten is West Virginia’s primary point guard and rightfully so, but Huggins is lucky to have Browne to back his starting point guard.
Another area Browne shine is from the free throw line. Browne is a 68 percent free throw shooter and even though Staten boasts a higher shooting percentage (71 percent) from the line, he’s had his fair share of miscues from the foul line. Browne never really has and should be a “sure thing” when called upon for foul shots.
“I think it’s experience,” Huggins said. “Gary’s played a lot of basketball when you think about it. (He) played for the national team all those years, he played against grown men in those situations.”
“What Gary’s done is become a more consistent shooter. A more consistent free throw shooter. Where as you never knew what you were going to get before, but everyone feels confident with him shooting the ball now.”
“We shot the ball well,” said Browne said following the OSU game. “We went to the free throw line, played great defense.”
Without Browne, this offense would suffer. Staten can do a lot for this team, but it’s amplified with Browne in the lineup as well.
Browne said that he and his teammates are family and that this recent upswing shows that.
“We’re family and we keep each other positive,” said Browne. “Win or lose, next game we got to come in with a lot of energy, a lot of physicality to win the game.”