Poor second half dooms West Virginia in 73-57 loss to No. 14 Oklahoma State

Another poor performance left West Virginia coach Bob Huggins shaking his head and having to answer questions about how to get a solid 40 minutes out of what has become a mediocre team.

West Virginia shot 30 percent from the field, never led in the second half and fell to No. 14 Oklahoma State 73-57 on Saturday.

The Mountaineers lost for the third time in four games. Without a strong finish to the season, West Virginia is in jeopardy of missing a postseason tournament berth for the first time in 10 years.

"I've been embarrassed since the first game," Huggins said. "You can't win many games not rebounding. You can't win many games throwing the ball to them. There is a myriad of things we could name that you can't win doing."

Leading by two points at halftime, Oklahoma State used a strong second half to come out on top and shake off a double-overtime loss to No. 9 Kansas.

"It was good to bounce back after the Kansas game," Oklahoma State's Brian Williams said.

Le'Bryan Nash and Markel Brown scored 16 points apiece. Freshman Marcus Smart overcame early foul trouble to score 14 points — all in the second half. Williams added a career-high 13 points and Michael Cobbins scored 10 for Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4 Big 12).

Williams doubled his previous career high for points and made both 3-point tries after entering the game 1 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Oklahoma State shot 52 percent (14 of 27) after halftime and forced 11 second-half turnovers to give fifth-year coach Travis Ford his 100th win with the Cowboys.

West Virginia (13-14, 6-8) fell apart with lapses on both ends of the court.

As an example, Huggins referred to Nash's off-balance 3-point shot near the West Virginia student section midway through the second half. Williams, all alone under the basket, grabbed the errant shot and tipped it in.

"Shot clock is running down, they are falling out of bounds and they heave one up," Huggins said. "You would think we would block out. They catch it and lay it in, and we are standing there watching it. That is not playing.

"The truth is, we got beat to loose balls. We got beat to balls going out of bounds, and we have gotten beat to everything. We have a whole bunch of guys standing around and watching."

Aaric Murray led West Virginia with 11 points and Matt Humphrey scored 10.

West Virginia starting guards Jabarie Hinds, Eron Harris and Gary Browne combined to go 4 of 17 from the field while Juwan Staten, a backup guard, missed all six shot attempts.

Harris, a freshman, had scored in double figures in nine of 11 games entering this week. He went scoreless Monday in a loss at Kansas State and was limited to six points Saturday. Center Deniz Kilicli, coming off his best three-game stretch of the season, was held to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.

Smart, who was limited to 3 minutes in the first half, played all 20 minutes after halftime. He made two steals in a 14-second span that turned into easy baskets, part of a 13-2 run that put the Cowboys ahead 58-43 with 9:29 remaining.

At halftime, "we wanted to see if we could pressure the ball more," Cobbins said. "And, of course, we had Marcus Smart in there to add more pressure to our defense."

Needing baskets as Oklahoma State pulled away, West Virginia instead went nearly 7 minutes between field goals.

The Mountaineers didn't have to worry much about Oklahoma State freshman Phil Forte, who torched West Virginia for a career-high 26 points in the Cowboys' blowout win in their previous meeting in Stillwater, Okla. Forte finished with two points.

Oklahoma State committed six turnovers in the game's first 4 minutes with Smart already on the bench with three fouls. West Virginia used those turnovers to take a 12-5 lead, but it didn't last.

"We couldn't get anything going in the first 3 or 4 minutes of the game," Ford said. "We had silly fouls here and there. In some strange way, it might have motivated our guys."

The Cowboys managed just four field goals over the first 12 minutes, then got six in a 2:09 span. Nash scored six points during the 13-4 run that put Oklahoma State ahead 27-19 with 5 minutes remaining in the half.

Given wide-open chances, the Mountaineers couldn't hit many jumpers, but Murray scored West Virginia's final six points of the half, including a rebound dunk at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 35-33.