Accurate free throw shooting buoys West Virginia
Unerring free throw shooting and scoring contributions from six players helped carry West Virginia to an 85-79 win over homestanding Oklahoma State in the conference opener for both teams.
Moving to a 12-1 overall record with the win over the Cowboys, the Mountaineers converted 27 of the 32 free throws, including 19-of-21 in the second half.
The Mountaineers trailed 46-39 at the half, but claimed the lead for good at 62-60 and then made all their free throw chances in the final four minutes.
It was a messy game for any purists, but games without much pre-planned execution are how road games in conference play are won.
Both sides had problems with turnovers, but it was Oklahoma State that shot a lower percentage from the field, and was only 11-for-18 from the foul line in the second half. The Cowboys, now 10-3 overall, came into their league opener converting over 80 percent of their free throws.
Sagaba Konate (13 points, nine rebounds, 5-of-6 free throws) and Teddy Allen (15 points, 7-of-11 from the field) had their most productive games of the season. James Bolden (10 points in 11 minutes of playing time), Lamont West (11 points, 4-of-4 free throws), Daxter Miles Jr. (12 points) and Jevon Carter (6-for-6 on free throws, 12 points and seven assists) were the other four West Virginia players scoring in double figures.
The seventh-ranked Mountaineers claimed five more rebounds than the Cowboys had.
West Virginia’s fullcourt pressure defense didn’t cause the majority of Oklahoma State’s turnovers, but it was the Mountaineers halfcourt defense that seemed to catch the home side by surprise and had the Cowboys faltering at times. Carter uncharacteristically had eight of West Virginia’s turnovers, but converted all of his free throws in the game’s last frantic minutes.
West Virginia played its second Big 12 game on Monday afternoon at Kansas State in Manhattan. Tomorrow’s home game against Oklahoma has been announced as a sellout at the Coliseum.
Winning any game on the road in the Big 12 is important, considering Kansas, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas Tech are all ranked in the nation’s top 25.