WVU aims for first season sweep with trip to Stillwater
It’s crunch time for Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers.
WVU has eight games remaining in its regular season, starting with a two-game road trip that opens in Stillwater against Oklahoma State. Tip-off is set for 2 pm ET on ESPN2.
The Mountaineers need to fight their way back into the postseason picture after falling out of the NCAA Tournament in the most prominent bracketology projections. A win against the Cowboys would help them greatly, as it would go down as a quadrant one victory.
WVU has already taken down Oklahoma State once this season, notching a 70-60 victory at home on Jan. 11. Road games have been a much different story for the Mountaineers, however, as they have only taken one victory in their six true away contests so far this season.
The Cowboys enter this game in a low bit of form as well, dropping four of their last five games. One major difference between WVU and OSU, though, is that the Cowboys don’t have a postseason resume to worry about due to their ban from this year’s postseason. On the other hand, they would likely have no problem spoiling those of their league rivals as March draws closer.
Here are some of the biggest storylines heading into this game:
Taz comes back in force
WVU was once again without star guard Taz Sherman on Saturday when it lost to No. 14 Texas Tech, but he returned on Tuesday and led the Mountaineers in both scoring and rebounding as they defeated Iowa State at home.
His presence made a clear difference on the court — even Bob Huggins said the guard gave his team a “shot in the arm.”
WVU did get plenty of boosts from other players, namely guard Malik Curry and Jalen Bridges, in Sherman’s absence, and they continued to produce when he came back, but Huggins is not afraid to admit the impact his team’s leading scorer has on the offense.
“Taz coming back is a huge plus for us, it’s a huge plus,” Huggins said. “I mean, he’s a guy that can create his own. That’s kind of weird.”
Mike Boynton has a young Oklahoma State team in Stillwater right now, featuring a plethora of sophomores and freshmen that contribute double-digit minutes to his squad.
23 games into the season, Bob Huggins notices one major difference in his upcoming opponent from the first meeting: maturity.
“They are awfully young, and I think more comfortable with the system,” Huggins said. “Mike’s done an unbelievable job to do what he’s done with the guys knowing that they can’t play in the tournament…and for them to still compete the way they’ve competed, he’s done a remarkable job.”
Isaiah Likekele is one of the senior leaders on the team, and he is indicative of the Cowboys’ dynamic style of basketball. The 6-5 guard started his career as more of a point guard, but as he matured in his career, he has added a more physical side to his scoring arsenal.
“Is he a power forward? I can remember when he first came in the league, he was a point guard, and he’s always been a guy to put his head down, drive it at the rim, but he’s doing it against bigger people now and being successful,” Huggins said .
Likekele will face the Mountaineers after scoring a season-high 19 points against TCU without taking a single three-pointer.
WVU at Oklahoma State game information
West Virginia and Oklahoma State square off at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Saturday starts, as always, with an all-new episode of The Bob Huggins Show at 9 am ET on West Virginia Nexstar stations. Then, at 10 am ET on the same channels, a live edition of Mountaineer GameDay, the most fun pregame show in West Virginia, tips off.