MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - In the second half of many of its losses, No. 19 West Virginia has struggled mightily on offense. During their three-game losing streak last month, the Mountaineers went cold in the second halves of losses to TCU and Kentucky.
In Saturday’s 88-85 loss to Oklahoma State, a major offensive lapse wasn’t to blame. When the game was on the line, the Mountaineers couldn’t make a stop on the defensive end.
“We didn’t practice very well,” said head coach Bob Huggins. “I was very disappointed in our practice, which leads to we gave up 52 points [in the second half]. We didn’t guard the ball screen. We didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”
West Virginia (18-7, 7-5) shot 52 percent against the Cowboys, going 16-31 in the first half and 12-23 in the second half.
But after leading 74-68 with 4:06 to play, the Mountaineers allowed Oklahoma State to score on eight of its final nine possessions.
The Cowboys outscored the Mountaineers 20-11 in the final four minutes, going 4-5 from 3-point range and 4-4 from the free throw line. Oklahoma State also secured two key offensive rebounds in the final moments, the latter of which led to a decisive 3-pointer by Lindy Waters.
“What we didn’t do was get rebounds when we needed to get rebounds,” said Huggins. “There were a bunch of run-stoppers.”
Free throws were also a big storyline in the game: Oklahoma State was 30-36 from the line, while the Mountaineers were 24-28.
“It’s hard to guard them at the foul line,” said Huggins.
West Virginia wasn’t the only victim on an upset-heavy Saturday in the Big 12. Kansas, which entered the day tied for first in the conference with Texas Tech, lost to Baylor, while Oklahoma fell on the road to Iowa State.
Those results mean the Mountaineers missed out on a prime opportunity to gain some ground in the conference standings. Instead, WVU now trails Texas Tech by two games with only six contests remaining in the regular season.
Another chance to bounce back is coming up quickly, as the Mountaineers host TCU Monday night. James "Beetle" Bolden said WVU needs to have a short memory following this most recent setback.
“It’s just another loss, honestly,” said Bolden, who had eight points against the Cowboys. “We’ve got a quick turnaround, so this one is behind us.”