By CAM HUFFMAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
In desperate need of a signature win — any type of win, for that matter — the West Virginia University basketball team returns home to the WVU Coliseum this afternoon when it hosts No. 14 Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
The Cowboys (19-6, 9-4 Big 12) aren’t exactly the medicine the Mountaineers (13-13, 6-7 Big 12) need coming off a 71-61 loss at No. 13 Kansas State on Monday — a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates.
Losers of two of the last three, the Mountaineers did about everything wrong against the Wildcats, trailed by as many as 21 in the second half and had Eron Harris, who failed to score in eight minutes of action, battling foul trouble and picking up a second-half technical at a crucial moment.
Their in need of something positive, but that may be tough to find against an OSU squad that had won seven in a row before falling to No. 9 Kansas in overtime on Wednesday.
Junior guard Markel Brown leads the team with 15.9 points per game, while freshman Marcus Smart, one of the league’s top newcomers, is chipping in 15 points and 4.4 assists per outing.
Completing the Cowboys’ backcourt is another freshman, Phil Forte, who is averaging 11 points per outing.
“If I’m not mistaken, I think they scored 63 of their 80 (in an 80-66 win over the Mountaineers in Stillwater on Jan. 26) or something ridiculous like that,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins of the OSU backcourt. “They’re hard to guard, because they can spread you so much and Forte has such great range. You think you’ve got him, and he just takes a couple steps back.
“Brown is as good an athlete as there is, and it still comes down to Smart making plays. They’re probably the best three guards in the league.”
Huggins, though, is more worried about his own team than he is the opponent.
“We haven’t handled adversity sometimes very well,” said the veteran coach. “They’re going to pressure us, and we have to be able to handle it..”