Contributors, Justin Jackson, Men's Basketball, Sports, WVU Sports

COLUMN: Blowout to Oklahoma State shows what WVU really is

Given an opportunity to show it was better than most believed, West Virginia instead sunk right back into despair and frustration Saturday.

In short, Oklahoma State’s 81-58 victory inside a half-filled Gallagher-Iba Arena was a 40-minute showcase of the Mountaineers displaying nothing more than their own shortcomings.


If WVU somehow thought Tuesday’s victory against Iowa State was a starting point to some type of miracle turnaround, the Mountaineers came out of that gate limp and became a team worthy of being at the bottom of the Big 12 standings.

“Let’s talk honestly,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins began. “We don’t have guys who drive the ball and absorb contact and score. We don’t have the guy who can just big-boy you, just grab it and bang you and score the ball. We don’t have those guys. We bang somebody one time, we lose the ball.”

Instead of a turnaround, the Mountaineers proved once again they can go long stretches without scoring, while missing a bunch of close shots. They proved they can’t rebound, and in stretches, didn’t even appear to be trying all that hard to secure the ball.

Some errors were nearly comical, as guys lost possession of the ball when no one was around them. Malik Curry not only lost control of his dribble one time, but then tripped over the ball that amounted to one of the Mountaineers’ 12 turnovers.

Frustration poured out, too. WVU forward Gabe Osabuohien was ejected with 1:18 remaining after getting whistled for two technical fouls while arguing a call. He then argued with WVU head coach Bob Huggins on his way back to the locker room.

There is no arguing the Mountaineers are simply outmatched in the paint, where the Cowboys racked up a 40-16 scoring advantage.

At the rim? Oklahoma State, which came into the game eighth in the Big 12 in rebounding margin, finished with an amazing 48-24 lead on the glass.

To out-rebound a team 2-1, that’s a pretty hard thing to do, but the Cowboys (12-12, 5-7 Big 12) made it look rather easy.
And that’s who the Mountaineers have been through the majority of the season, even when they were winning back in November and December.
Of course, the schedule back then wasn’t anything like the Mountaineers have seen the last two months, so some of that could be covered up with a hot shooting night from Taz Sherman or from one of those classic all-around games from Osabuohien.

“We don’t have the personnel to match up with some other teams,” Huggins said. “Now, we have the personnel to match up with some of the teams, but we don’t have the personnel to match up with all of the teams in our league.”

That is likely going to lead to a disappointing finish. There’s not going to be a shock-the-world, as Sherman predicted after the Iowa State win.

Maybe the Mountaineers (14-10, 3-8) can squeak one out against Kansas State on the road Monday. Maybe there is even a miracle waiting at home against Kansas in six days.

Over time, the numbers don’t lie, though, and WVU is a team that just doesn’t have the guys right now to get the numbers in their favor.

“We got big-boyed out there,” Huggins said.

Maybe someday WVU gets the right guys to push back, but it’s not happening this season.

“If I had all the answers, we’d be a hell of a lot better team,” Huggins said. “I don’t have all the answers.”

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