No. 20 West Virginia was without their primary seniors, Juwan Staten and Gary Browne, on Senior Day, but that did not stop the Mountaineers from beating Oklahoma State 81-72.
“That was the goal of the game, we didn’t want to lose on senior night,” said Daxter Miles Jr. “There were a lot of emotions involved and of course they couldn’t play, we had to fight for it. We didn’t give up this time like we did in the Kansas game. We fought even when we had the lead.”
Both teams got off to a hot start. Oklahoma State’s Jeff Newberry hit a three the first position of the game while Miles hit the first three for the Mountaineers. A few powerful shots by Devin Williams helped West Virginia go up one with 15:30 left in the first half.
The Mountaineers started pressing early and forced the Cowboys to turn the ball over a few times, but that didn’t stop Oklahoma State from missing a shot as they started a perfect 6-6 from the field.
Le’Bryan Nash led the way early for the Cowboys as he started 4-4 and added a couple aggressive dunks.
Tarik Phillip and Elijah Macon picked up the slack for the missing Staten and Brown as both started to get hot late in the first half aiding the Mountaineers in a 8-0 run.
Poor foul shooting and turnovers late in the half, allowed Oklahoma State to go on a 5-0 run and cut West Virginia’s halftime lead to just six points, 39-33.
The Mountaineers, however, forced 11 turnovers and scored 15 points off of them in the first half.
A quick start to the second half (10-4 run) got the Mountaineers out to a 12 point lead. Two lay-ups by Nathan Adrian and a couple of 3-pointers from Miles and Jevon Carter put West Virginia up 49-37 five minutes into the second half.
Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte cashed in on two big 3-pointers to cut the Cowboy’s deficit down to six points but a big bucket on the other side by Elijah Macon ended the Cowboys run. West Virginia led 57-49 with 9:27 left in the half.
Jaylen Paige knocked down a three to give the Mountaineers some breathing room with just minutes left, but the Cowboys would not go away easy as Newberry scored seven straight points.
West Virginia went 25-52 (48.1 percent) from the floor and 8-20 (40 percent) from behind the 3-line.
Williams led the Mountaineers in scoring, tying his career-high with 22 points. Miles also contributed with 15 points.
“Engery and attitude we came out and did what we do,” said Williams. “That’s what got us to these 23 wins. It was just energy and attitude and a little sense of urgency.”
Crucial defensive and big rebounds by West Virginia allowed them to finish off the Cowboys.
West Virginia was able to hold off Oklahoma State, 81-72, as they finished the regular season 22-8 overall and 11-7 in conference play. Now the team will turn its attention to the conference tournament.