By Chris Jackson
Trailing by one point, West Virginia was one shot away from coming away with the victory.
But redshirt sophomore guard James “Beetle” Bolden’s 3 was no good with seven seconds remaining, which then led to a dunk by Oklahoma State’s (15-10, 5-7 Big 12) Jeffrey Carroll with one second left on the clock, giving the Cowboys a huge 88-85 victory over the hometown Mountaineers (18-7, 7-5 Big 12) at the Coliseum.
“It was for Sags (sophomore forward Sagaba Konate), it wasn’t for Jevon,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “We were going to throw it close, but we were going to do that for four-and-a-half minutes, but we didn’t do it.”
Bolden said he thought Carter was double-teamed, leading to him taking the 3. Going into the shot, he was 2-of-5 from long range and at eight points.
“It was really for JC, but they double-teamed him,” Bolden said. “The clock was winding down. I had a nice look at it. It just missed.”
Before that play, Oklahoma State came away with one of its most important offensive rebounds of the season.
Senior guard Kendall Smith grabbed the rebound after missing a jumper. He then found Lindy Waters in the corner, who connected on the 3 to give Oklahoma State the lead for good at 86-85.
“You have to go get it,” Huggins said. “The one before, JC blocks the guy out. They called a foul, which would have given us the ball back. And then this one, we don’t rebound. We batted it around a little bit, but we don’t rebound it.”
That was one of the Cowboys’ 12 offensive rebounds, as it held a 31-28 advantage on the boards and a 12-10 edge on the offense glass.
*That was huge,” Bolden said. “Whenever you get an offensive rebound and second chance shot, it usually goes in for anybody. It was a huge rebound.”
WVU’s offense found lots of success all afternoon, finishing with a 52 percent clip from the field. Senior guard Jevon Carter scored a career-high 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including a perfect 10-for-10 showing at the free throw line, while junior forward Esa Ahmad scored 16 points in 20 minutes in his fourth straight start.
But Huggins was not pleased with the shot selection. His team attempted 16 shots beyond the arc, making only five of those.
Oklahoma State took eight more free throws than WVU all game and 12 more in the first half. It also outscored WVU by six points after halftime, putting WVU at minus-83 in the second half during its seven losses this season.
The Mountaineers are now two games back of Kansas and Texas Tech for first place in the Big 12 standings with six games remaining in the regular season. They know how much they need to bounce back Monday night against TCU.
“We know that the next game is a must win and every game from now on,” Ahmad said. “This is big for us.”