|Field Goal %||46.2||51.9|
|Three Point %||41.7||31.3|
|Free Throw %||83.3||85.7|
The #19 West Virginia Mountaineers (18-7 7-5) lost a heartbreaker to the Oklahoma State Cowboys (15-10 5-7) 88-85, in their third home loss of the season.
For such a high scoring game, it was tough to watch. There were 47 fouls called and 64 free throw attempts.
The Cowboys had 36 of those 64 free throw attempts. “It’s hard to guard them at the foul line” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins.
The game was dictated by the officials from the opening tip. The first foul was called in the first minute on Esa Ahmad and the whistle fest began. There were 13 fouls called in the first 10 minutes of the game.
West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate picked up his second foul with just under nine minutes left in the half and sat the final 8:57.
Oklahoma State didn’t get called for a foul in the final 8 minutes, while West Virginia was called for five personals. Seven of the 15 points for the Cowboys came from the free throw line, during that time.
Oklahoma State went 15-18 from the charity stripe and the Mountaineers went 4-6 in the first half.
Neither team would go on any runs with all the stoppage in play, but the Mountaineers held 39-36 lead going into halftime. West Virginia guard Jevon Carter led West Virginia with 13 points and three assists.
The Mountaineers shot 51.6% (16-31) from the field and 30% (3-10) from three.
Oklahoma State forward Cameron McGriff led all scorers with 16 points, but 9 of them would come from the free throw line (9-9).
The second half, the fouls would start to even out, but there was a couple no calls that were a bit puzzling that kept the Cowboys in the game.
West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr got hacked, hit in the face and subsequently the ball ended up on the floor and it was called a jump ball. The possession arrow pointed to the Cowboys.
On the Mountaineers ensuing possession, Miles gets bumped not once but twice and the second time he got knocked into the backcourt and they call a backcourt violation.
Just under 9 minutes in the second half, back to back fouls were called on the Mountaineers and none was more crucial than the second one on Sagaba Konate, picking up his fourth foul. Sags would come out of the game and with a par of free throws the Cowboys would cut the lead to four.
The Mountaineers would go up six again with just over four minutes to play in the game after an alley-oop from Daxter Miles to Esa Ahmad and the crowd was back into it. The pace was picking up and then another off the ball foul called on West Virginia forward Logan Routt would give the Cowboys another pair of free throws.
West Virginia guard Jevon Carter would respond with a pair of free throws of his own, then a foul on Carter on the other end, which he clearly didn’t foul on a rebound attempt put the Cowboys back on the line and Oklahoma State Forward Mitchell Solomon hit the pair of free throws to cut the lead to four 76-72 with 3:19 to play.
Carter responded on the other end driving the lane for a lay-up to put the Mountaineers up by six, then Cowboy guard Kendall Smith hit a three to cut the deficit back to three.
A hard foul by Smith on Carter on the other end was not called but an off the ball foul on McGriff holding Esa Ahmad was. It must have been simultaneously, or the foul occurred before Carter was forearmed, but nonetheless Esa went to the line to shoot two and he would go 1-2 giving the Mountaineers a four-point lead.
McGriff missed a three and the Mountaineers would have the ball with just over two minutes to play and up four, then Carter would have a costly turnover giving the Cowboys the ball and Carroll would hit another three to cut the lead to one with just 2:05 to go.
Esa would hit a pair of free throws to give West Virginia a three-point lead and they would switch to a 1-3-1 zone after Carroll’s back to back threes. The zone worked earlier in the game causing a turnover, but after Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton called a timeout and the Mountaineers went back to man to man.
This time around it was not affective, as Tavarius Shine found Lindy Waters in the corner for a three to tie the game up at 81 with 1:31 remaining.
Carter would hit another par of free throws then Smith responded with a nice little jumper to tie the game back up.
Jevon took it into his hands again and hit another jump shot from the wing giving the Mountaineers an 85-83 lead with 36 seconds to go in the game.
Oklahoma State would take the lead after Kendal Smith missed from the elbow, the ball was batted up in the air, fall into Kendal’s hands and he found Lindy Waters open in the corner for a three 86-85.
Huggins would call a timeout and draw up a play. The ball was supposed to go down into Sags, but he got completely pushed out of the paint and Beetle Bolden improvised by pulling up for a three with ten seconds to go. It wasn’t a bad look, but the ball would not go through the net and Oklahoma State got the rebound pushed the ball up to Carroll who then slammed it in.
Beetle quickly launches the ball down to Carter for a three to tie the game and it came up short.
I generally don’t blame officiating for losses because they are not the reason teams lose and unfortunately the college game is so inconsistent that teams adjust to how the game is called. I thought West Virginia did adjust.
“I’m at a loss to explain why you are allowed to have your hands on a cutter, its freedom of movement, why are you allowed to have your hands on a cutter, but you can’t touch a guy with the ball. To me it should be the same. Freedom of movement is freedom of movement anyway you talk about it. We’ll have to figure it out.” Said Huggins.
The problem I witnessed was the touch foul calls on West Virginia every time they started to put a run together and most of them off the ball. Logan Routt fouled out of the game in 15 minutes and a couple of those foul calls were away from the ball.
If Sags can be pushed out of the paint at the end of the game by Solomon, why wasn’t that an off the ball foul call?
The Mountaineers were aggressive on offense and they did get rewarded, but did they truly get the same treatment on both ends? And if Oklahoma State doesn’t get the offensive rebound, do they call the push in the back on Esa Ahmad?
“They got some breaks.” Said Huggins.
Of course, you can go through any game and question a lot of calls, but as I pointed out, there was some crucial no calls and calls that didn’t go West Virginia’s way, but let’s not take away West Virginia’s mistakes.
West Virginia only had one offensive rebound in the second half and was out-rebounded 17-10. Five of the 17 rebounds for the Cowboys were offensive rebounds, getting seven second chance points and none was more crucial than the rebound they gave up at the end of the game, that gave them the lead.
With Sags having to sit out half of the game because of foul trouble is one reason why the Mountaineers struggled to control the glass.
“They made shots. What we didn’t do was get rebounds when we needed to get rebounds.” Said Huggins. “They made some hard ones too.”
The Mountaineers got sloppy on defense down the stretch, letting guys loose around the baseline and getting open for threes in the corner.
I give the Cowboys credit. They might have shot 36 free throws, but they hit 30 of them and when they needed to hit a shot, they did.
West Virginia needs to forget about this one quickly, because they host TCU on Monday night at 9:00 pm on ESPN.