These weekend warriors are making history
For the second straight Saturday, the Oklahoma State basketball team visited a daunting venue to take on a talented opponent, and again, the Cowboys left with a muchneeded victory.
OSU defeated West Virginia 88-85 on Saturday, giving the Cowboys two straight road wins against top-20 opponents for the first time in program history. OSU led for only 36 seconds in the second half, holding the No. 19 Mountaineers close enough to be able to rally.
Here are three observations from the Cowboys’ victory over the Mountaineers.
Cowboys change their course — again
Like last week’s upset of Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, Saturday’s victory could be viewed as season-changing for the Cowboys. However, the Cowboys followed their performance in Lawrence with a home dud against Baylor.
But back on the road, OSU competed with the Mountaineers throughout, never trailing by more than eight points. Now, the Cowboys’ resume for the NCAA Tournament includes victories against Oklahoma, Kansas and West Virginia, all of which have been ranked in the top five of the Associated Press poll at some point this season.
OSU became the first team to post victories in Allen Fieldhouse and the WVU Coliseum since the Cowboys achieved the feat in 2013. The Cowboys host Kansas State on Wednesday in Gallagher-Iba Arena with a chance to win consecutive Big 12 games for the first time this season.
At 5-7 in the conference with six games remaining, OSU likely needs to win half of its regular-season games going forward to secure itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Clutch shooting to come back
The Cowboys trailed by six points with under three minutes to play, but they came back behind a flurry of 3-pointers. OSU made four of its final five 3-point attempts; Lindy Waters buried the go-ahead shot with 17.8 seconds to play, following his game-tying 3 with 1:31 to go.
OSU finished 10-for-24 from 3. Perhaps more importantly, the Cowboys were much improved at the free-throw line. After a 7-for15 performance from the line in a loss to Baylor, OSU made 30 of its 36 free-throw attempts in a game that featured a bevy of fouls.
Sophomore forward Cam McGriff led the way, making all 13 of his free-throw attempts en route to posting his second 20-point performance in three games. Smith had 20 points, as well, with 13 of them coming in the second half.
Tavarius Shine returns
After missing OSU’s past four games, junior Tavarius Shine returned and played impactful minutes off the bench.
Shine, who had a cast on his left wrist as recently as Thursday, looked rusty on both ends, but he managed to contribute seven points and four rebounds. OSU outscored West Virginia by 11 points with Shine on the floor, behind only Mitchell Solomon (plus-16) for the best plus-minus on the team.
As Shine gets back in rhythm, he should make an impact. Shine started 17 of OSU’s first 21 games, and with OSU trying to claw its way into the tournament, another piece of Shine’s caliber can only help those efforts.
Oklahoma State forward Cameron McGriff (12), guard Jeffrey Carroll (30) and forward Yankuba Sima (32) celebrate after beating West Virginia 88-85 on Saturday in Morgantown.