MORGANTOWN - The Mountaineers lose their ninth straight game against ranked teams, this time against No. 14 Oklahoma State, 73-57.
It's the second time this season West Virginia (13-14, 6-8) has fallen to the Cowboys. They also lost back on January 26 by a score of 80-66.
Any hope for the Mountaineers to make the NCAA Tournament, or even the NIT, seems to be slipping away.
"I've said all along that it's my fault," said head coach Bob Huggins. "It isn't anybody else's fault but mine."
After the first minute, this game had a feeling of two talented teams who would battle down to the wire. Jabarie Hinds immediately took a steal the other way for a two-handed slam in the opening seconds.
The two teams would exchange shots, and West Virginia jumped out to an early lead, but it all faded away as the first half ticked down. The Cowboys only scored eight points in the opening ten minutes, but would go on a 19-4 run and take a seven point lead.
The Mountaineers did play right down to the final second of the first half. Aaric Murray rebounded a Juwan Staten miss and slammed it home with 0.1 seconds remaining. They went into the locker room trailing by just two.
Freshman Marcus Smart, a player of the year candidate, had three fouls in under three minutes to open the game. It forced him to the bench, where he sat for the rest of the first half. He would reenter the game in the second half, and went on to finish with 14 points on 50% shooting.
It was the second half where Oklahoma State took advantage of Smart's return and jump out to a lead. They would contain a lead near double-digits as the game came to a close.
"People expect excellence, and we're not providing that," said Kevin Noreen. "It's hard to go to class, it's hard to walk around here. We have nothing to hang out hat on."
For the Mountaineers, it was Murray who was the most productive. The leading scorer and rebounder on the team finished with 11 points and four rebounds today. He came off the bench in order to do so.
Freshman Eron Harris remains in a slump versus ranked teams. Harris is 1-for-14 in his last four games against ranked teams. He couldn't manage a single point again today, the second game in a row he hasn't put the ball through the hoop.
Shooting woes were a problem for the entire team. WVU was just 16 of 53 from the field, compared to OSU which was 25 of 53. The Cowboys shot from all over the court, which included 36 points in the paint.
Five players scored in double-figures for Oklahoma State, while just two did for West Virginia in Murray and Matt Humphrey.
"We're just not hitting," said Humphrey. "We don't get easy buckets like other teams get. It's just execution, scoring is execution."
Baylor (16-10, 7-6) is up next for West Virginia. The Bears won in the first contest of the season on February 13, by a final score of 80-60. That game will be at the Coliseum on February 27.