Gabe Osabuohien vs. Kansas State 1/8

West Virginia's Gabe Osabuohien (3) takes a layup against Kansas State at the WVU Coliseum on Jan. 8, 2022, in Morgantown, W.Va.

The West Virginia men’s basketball team hosted the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the WVU Coliseum on Tuesday, taking a 70-60 victory in what many considered a must-win game for the Mountaineers’ confidence moving forward.

After showing a lack of energy and effort in previous matchups, the Mountaineers (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) came out with a new mindset and the defense showed that. The Mountaineers were a stronger and more consistent defensive team against the Cowboys (8-6, 1-2 Big 12), and this held back Oklahoma State’s balanced paint and perimeter offensive attack.

Defense continued to be a factor all the way to the stat sheet, with West Virginia forcing 17 turnovers and only allowing 23-of-58 (39.7%) shooting from an explosive Oklahoma State offense.

A couple of Oklahoma State turnovers kicked off the first half, with guard Taz Sherman putting the Mountaineers on the board first with a three, heading off his eight-point total in the first half.

The Cowboys kept it close however, with guard Bryce Williams working in the paint and behind the arc in the first half, dropping seven points to lead all Oklahoma State scorers.

In the middle of the first period, defense was the story for both squads with the Cowboys and the Mountaineers going on a three-minute and two-minute scoring droughts respectively. Throughout the first half as a whole though, West Virginia was also able to force six turnovers and only allow 10-of-31 (32.3%) shooting from the Cowboys.

However, West Virginia’s poor shooting did plague its first half, with the Mountaineers going 12-of-33 (36.4%) from the field while committing four turnovers of their own.

Late in the first half, West Virginia ran out to a large 14-point lead, thanks to eight physical points in the paint from forward Gabe Osabuohien. The Cowboys with guard Avery Anderson III though continued to battle back, scoring five of his nine total points in the first half.

West Virginia forward Jalen Bridges also made his presence felt, leading all West Virginia scorers with 10 of his 22 total points coming in the first period.

Going into the second half with a 34-23 Mountaineer lead, both teams exchanged buckets with guard Sean McNeil beginning to heat up with nine early points in the second half. Oklahoma State guard Isaac Likekele also got his name on the board, scoring the first two baskets in the half for the Cowboys.

West Virginia eclipsed its biggest lead of the night in the middle of the second period, extending the lead all the way out to 16 points, with a Sherman three pointer. With the Cowboys playing catch-up for most of the second half, it allowed the Mountaineers to close out the game and seal the win.

Bridges quietly ended as the Mountaineer’s leading scorer with 22 points, along with five rebounds. Sherman also chipped in 13 points and five assists.

Oklahoma State’s leading contributor was Likekele, who scored 11 points along with six rebounds and three assists. Williams also contributed with 12 points and three assists.

For their next contest, the Mountaineers will travel to Allen Fieldhouse to face the No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday. The game is set to tip off at 2 p.m. and will be televised on CBS.