Following their 82-70 win over TCU, the Oklahoma State Cowboys (18-11, 8,9) look to close out the season on a high note in Morgantown against the West Virginia Mountaineers (22-8, 10-7). WVU is riding a three game home winning streak, highlighted by their one-point upset against No. 8 Kansas. If the Cowboys were to defeat the 'Eers on their home court, it would be a huge boost heading into the Big 12 tournament.
Oklahoma State defeated TCU on Wednesday night, snapping their four game losing streak. The Cowboys were lead by their two seniors Le'Bryan Nash and Anthony Hickey, who both had 20 points. The Pokes shot a blazing 65% from three point range, with Hickey going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. All of the other Cowboy seniors got some minutes on the court, as Marek Soucek, Christien Sager, and Alex Budke played at one time or another.
|Oklahoma State Cowboys Projected Starting Lineup|
|G||Anthony Hickey Jr.||29||29.7||9.2||4.4||3.3||2.0||0.2||1.6||0.418||0.414||0.366|
|G||Phil Forte III||29||33.6||15.6||2.2||1.7||2.0||0.0||1.9||0.434||0.855||0.400|
The Mountaineers are coming off of a 76-69 OT loss to #9 Kansas, a team who they had defeated just a couple of weeks prior. WVU found themselves with a 14 point lead heading into halftime, only to be outscored 33-19 in the second period. Daxter Miles Jr. led all Mountaineers with 23 points, also contributing four rebounds.
|West Virginia Mountaineers Projected Starting Lineup|
|G||Daxter Miles Jr.||30||20.0||6.9||2.3||1.0||1.2||0.1||0.8||0.402||0.487||0.333|
The first meeting between these two teams was one of the ugliest games in recent Cowboy memory. With the game was tied at halftime, the Mountaineers pulled away early in the second half and the Cowboys were never able to recover. With the final rebounding margin at +17 in favor of the visitors, along with their 50% shooting performance from three (10-for-20), the Mountaineers were in control for the majority of the game. WVU guard Gary Browne held Phil Forte to 10 points, while Juwan Staten put up 22 to lead the 'Eers to a 73-63 victory.
The biggest question going into Saturday's game is the availability of WVU players Juwan Staten and Gary Browne. Both of them did not play against Kansas, and both are out of the projected starting lineups. These two players gave the Cowboys fits when the two teams met in Stillwater, with Staten filling up the stat sheet and Browne locking down Forte. If they both do not play, that would give the Cowboys one less problem to worry about. Still, be warned; this team is good regardless, as evidenced by their performance against the Jayhawks in Lawrence.
Keys to the Game
Crash the Boards: It would be an understatement to say that the Cowboys struggle in the rebounding department. Even in their win against TCU on Wednseday, the Pokes were outrebounded by the Horned Frogs 36-30. On the glass, they are last in the conference for a reason, but that doesn't mean that they can't improve. If they could stay equal with WVU on the glass, it could do wonders in their upset effort.
Help Out Forte: In the recent weeks, Phil Forte's production has greatly decreased. Against the Frogs, he was held to 4-for-12 shooting. It's actually impressive that he got 12 shots off, considering that against the Mountaineers, he only took three shot attempts. This is partly because he is such a defensive focus, and he has to work hard in a faulty offensive system to get off quality shots. If Forte can free himself for a couple open looks, it would certainly fare well for the Cowboys.
Where: WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, WV
When: 2:00 PM ET
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network
View from the Enemy: Smoking Musket
The Cowboys will probably come out sluggish in the first half, but if they get production from their stars and find a way to establish a presence on the glass, they could find themselves flying home happy. Still, comparing these teams' individual performances in the past month, it would be sensible to choose the home team.
West Virginia 75, Oklahoma State 68