Wed, 14 Apr 2021

No. 6 West Virginia looks to surge vs. No. 17 Oklahoma State

Field Level Media
06 Mar 2021, 06:19 GMT+10

West Virginia boasts a No. 6 national ranking and aspirations for a deep run in the upcoming NCAA Tournament thanks in great part to its depth.

The Mountaineers look to rely on their depth once more on Saturday as they host No. 17 Oklahoma State in the regular season finale.

With a victory, West Virginia (18-7, 11-5 Big 12) would clinch the No. 2 seed in next week's conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

Make no mistake, the program sits on that precipice because so many players stand ready to contribute in meaningful ways.

On Thursday, it was redshirt freshman Jalen Bridges, who had career highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double in a 76-67 home win against TCU. With various Mountaineer veterans struggling two nights after a 94-89 overtime loss to visiting No. 3 Baylor, Bridges provided a much-needed boost.

"As the season has gone on, I have gotten way more comfortable out there," Bridges said. "The speed of the game has slowed down to me now. I am just taking what comes to me. I am not really (trying) to force it out there. I am just trying to be as active as possible, trying to do everything I can to help my team win."

Thursday's victory marked No. 899 in the career of Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins, whose displeasure over the team's 34.4 percent shooting night trumped any excitement about an impending milestone.

"I guess that the thing most people would do is blame it on the hangover from the Baylor game, but we just didn't play," Huggins said. "Thank goodness J.B. was here. We didn't guard, we didn't run offense and we had to have more dribbles per person in the first half than any team that's been here."

As West Virginia was holding on against TCU, Oklahoma State (17-7, 10-7) was seeing a five-game winning streak end after an uneven effort at Baylor.

Despite shooting 53.8 percent, the Cowboys committed 18 turnovers in an 81-70 defeat.

They also may have lost star freshman Cade Cunningham, at least temporarily. Cunningham, who led the Cowboys with 24 points and seven rebounds, injured his left ankle after stepping on the foot of Baylor's Davion Mitchell in the final minute.

Cunningham didn't return after walking off the floor under his own power. Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton didn't have an update but said Cunningham would be evaluated soon.

"I know he's strong," the Cowboys' Avery Anderson III said. "He's gonna be back. He's a tough guy."

Isaac Likekele (hand) was sidelined for the fifth time in six games for Oklahoma State, which can finish as high as fourth but no lower than sixth in Big 12 tournament seeding.

Derek Culver posted a double-double of 22 points and 19 rebounds on Jan. 4 to boost then-No. 14 West Virginia to an 87-84 win at Oklahoma State in the schools' first meeting this season.

An advantage inside gave the Mountaineers the edge, as they grabbed 22 offensive rebounds and scored 36 points in the paint.

--Field Level Media

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