West Virginia (13-13, 6-7) will host No. 14 Oklahoma State (19-6, 9-4) Saturday inside the Coliseum with the Mountaineers looking for a marquee win on the season.
In the first meeting between the two in Stillwater West Virginia jumped out to a 24-11 lead with 5:29 left in the first half, but the Cowboys went on a 19-3 run to put them ahead 30-27 entering halftime. From there Oklahoma State would cruise to an 80-66 win behind a career high 26 points from Phil Forte to go along with 24 points from junior Markel Brown and 13 points freshman Marcus Smart.
"If I'm not mistaken I think they scored 63 of their 80. They're hard to guard because they can spread you so much," head coach Bob Huggins said.
The three combine to average around 42 of the Cowboys 72.7 points per game and have developed into quite the trio.
"That's probably the best three guards in the league," Huggins said.
According to Huggins the Cowboys tried to initially come out and guard West Virginia and they were able to spread them out and get easy baskets, but in the second half the Mountaineers turned the ball over which led to Oklahoma State pulling away.
One area that the Mountaineers have struggled with in recent games is recognizing shooters and closing out on them, and that was an issue in the first matchup with Forte. Finding the freshman and putting a hand in his face will be critical.
"On ball defense is critical anytime," Huggins said.
Post-season hopes for the Mountaineers hinge completely on their chances down the stretch and Saturday will be an opportunity for West Virginia to secure its most marquee win of the season. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.