West Virginia travels to Oklahoma State with hopes of second-straight victory
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 02:01
After more than 30 years of being a head coach, Bob Huggins has learned an important lesson.
"You don’t give them back when you win one," he said after West Virginia’s 71-50 victory against TCU Wednesday.
"But I’m not very happy. We played real hard, and I thought defensively we did things we’ve done for a long time in the first half, but in the second half we stopped guarding – which has been kind of what we do."
The Mountaineers will look to continue making those improvements Saturday afternoon when they head to Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State. WVU is looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since it beat Oakland, Radford and Eastern Kentucky in December.
"I think we’re more talented than a lot of teams in the conference and in the country," said freshman guard Terry Henderson. "We just haven’t been playing up to our potential. Games like (TCU) show what we can do,
(and) we just have to do it every night."
While Henderson finally returned to action Wednesday after missing two games with a back injury, it has been the emergence of the team’s other freshman, Eron Harris, that has continued to help lift the Mountaineers.
In the first three starts of his career Harris has responded. The Indianapolis, Ind., native has averaged 15.3 points per game and is shooting 50 percent from the field.
"My young guy (Harris) was 5-for-6, 2-for-3 from (the three-point line), 7-for-10 from the foul line with three rebounds, 19 points and two assists. And he played the most amount of minutes," Huggins said after the TCU game. "I believe you get out of this game what you put into it."
West Virginia also got a boost from senior forward Deniz Kilicli.
After playing just six minutes against Purdue last Saturday, Kilicli earned his first start since the Mountaineers’ loss to Oklahoma Jan. 5 and scored 11 points, his first time in double figures since Dec. 30.
"For a positive, that is as active as Deniz has been in a long time," Huggins said. "He was active out on the floor, and he did a lot of positive things. He did a lot of positive things defensively and rebounded the ball better."
But the Mountaineers will have a tough task if they want to come away with a win against an Oklahoma State team that features some of the best players the Big 12 Conference has to offer.
Junior Markel Brown leads the Cowboys in scoring, averaging more than 14 points per game, while sophomore LeBryan Nash is averaging 13.9 per game.
Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart is one of the best freshmen in the nation and the point guard has shown his versatility in his first season, averaging 13.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
Saturday’s game will be the second time the two schools have faced off. The Mountaineers won the only previous meeting when Jerry West led the way with 12 points and 12 rebounds in a 67-49 WVU victory.
After the TCU victory, the team agreed that if they want to continue going on the right path they have to come up with the same mentality they had against the Horned Frogs.
"You can’t get too high or too low," Harris said. "When you win, you’ve got to keep that same hunger from the last game when you lost, and that’s something we’ve got to learn to do.
"Some of us got it, (and) some of us don’t. But we’ve got to get on the same page."