Huggins ties Smith at 879 as No. 17 WVU beats Oklahoma State

By MATT THORNSBURY Associated Press
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins had a better time being around North Carolina great Dean Smith than talking about tying him on the career wins list.
The 17th-ranked Mountaineers took over early in the second half to beat Oklahoma State 65-47 Tuesday night, giving Huggins his 879th victory to match Smith for sixth all-time among Division I coaches.
“I got to spend a lot of time with him,” Huggins said. “Quality guy, class guy, fun guy. I just watched him from afar, a fun guy to be around.
“I don’t pay attention. Those are my friends, what do I care?”
Huggins certainly cares about putting wins together, especially after a recent three-game slide that was stopped by Tuesday’s second-half dominance.
“I promised the state of West Virginia that we were going to get it going again,” Huggins said. “We’re going to be in the NCAA Tournament. We’re going to be a good team. That’s more important to me.”
Cutting down on turnovers was a big reason West Virginia (19-7, 7-6 Big 12) halted the skid, which included losses last week to top-ranked Baylor and No. 3 Kansas.
“We had three losses in a row. That’s unusual, especially for us,” guard Taz Sherman said. “I feel like we’re a good enough team to not go on slumps like that, offensively and defensively.”
The Mountaineers fell behind by 10 early but got back on track with tough defense. Oklahoma State shot 17% (5 of 30) from the floor after halftime and was held to 14 points, the fewest allowed by West Virginia this season.
Sean McNeil made three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-pointer. That capped a 20-4 run to start the second half and gave the Mountaineers a 48-37 lead with 8:42 remaining.
“Obviously, it was a tale of two halves in many ways for our team,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “West Virginia played better than us for 20 minutes for sure, maybe even the last four minutes of the first half, being perfectly honest.”
McNeil and Miles McBride scored 11 points apiece for the Mountaineers. McBride was making his first start. Oscar Tshiebwe had 15 rebounds, Derek Culver pulled down 10 off the bench and West Virginia outrebounded Oklahoma State 42-29.
West Virginia’s comeback actually started with the final shot of the first half. Jermaine Haley hit a 3-pointer from the corner on an inbounds pass as time expired. That trimmed the Mountaineers’ deficit to 33-28, and they maintained the momentum the rest of the way.
Cameron McGriff scored 19 points for Oklahoma State (13-13, 3-10), which won its previous two games.
NEW STARTERS
Huggins inserted guards McBride and Sherman in the starting lineup to replace the 6-foot-10 Culver and guard Jordan McCabe.
“It didn’t seem like it helped us much,” Huggins said. “They took away everything we wanted to do, and we didn’t handle it very well.”
Despite shooting 1 of 6 and scoring two points in the first half, McBride said it was “a dream come true” to start as a freshman.
The new lineup put the Mountaineers at a size and scoring disadvantage.
“We started small and that probably wasn’t the right thing to do, in hindsight,” Huggins said. “We were struggling so hard to score (previously) with playing that bigger lineup, but I thought that bigger lineup in the second half really saved us.”
BIG PICTURE
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys shot 60% from the floor in the first half but went cold after that, going more than five minutes without a field goal to start the second half.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers averaged 17 turnovers during their losing streak but committed only 10 on Tuesday. Still, there’s plenty of work to do to earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. West Virginia shot just 2 of 16 from 3-point range.
UP NEXT
Oklahoma State heads back home to host Oklahoma on Saturday.
West Virginia plays at TCU on Saturday. The Mountaineers have dropped four straight on the road.
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Dontae Wright hired as outside LB coach at West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Dontae Wright has been hired as outside linebackers coach at West Virginia.
West Virginia coach Neal Brown announced Wright’s hiring Tuesday.
Wright spent the past two seasons as safeties coach at Western Michigan.
Among his other coaching stops were at Tennessee Tech and Morehead State.
A native of Louisa, Kentucky, Wright played linebacker at Miami, Ohio, from 2003 to 2006.

Charleston to host part of national basketball tournament

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s capital city is set to host a leg of the annual The Basketball Tournament this summer.
The tournament’s regional locations were announced Tuesday with games scheduled in the Charleston Coliseum July 24-26.
The single-elimination tournament pits former college players against each other over a series of games that finishes off with a championship in Dayton, Ohio, in August.
The games are free. A 64-team bracket will be released in June and games will be televised.
Organizers said 35 players in the tournament have went on to sign deals with NBA teams and that last year 59 former professionals played in the tournament.
Regional games will also be played in Ohio, Nevada, Tennessee, Kansas, New York, Washington, D.C. and Florida. More information can befoundonline.

Moretti, Texas Tech top K-State 69-62, stay in 3rd in Big 12

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Davide Moretti flinched as a pass the Texas Tech guard wasn’t expecting glanced off his back and bounced toward Kansas State’s Cartier Diarra.
When Diarra tried to get too fancy with the ensuing breakaway dunk and clanged a windmill attempt off the rim, Moretti made the last-place Wildcats pay at the other end.
Moretti scored 18 points, including a 3-pointer after Diarra’s ill-fated miss when he could have tied the score midway through the second half, and the Red Raiders beat the Wildcats 69-62 on Wednesday night.
“There’s a lot of plays in the game that were momentum killers,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “Moretti … he’s the closer. That dude always comes up with big shots.
“And he’s such a good teammate. He lets those other guys go, but when it comes time to close, that dude is there and makes the right plays.”
Freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey had 17 points to help the Red Raiders (17-9, 8-5 Big 12) keep sole possession of third place in the conference, a game ahead of No. 17 West Virginia.
Kyler Edwards scored 14 points as Texas Tech bounced back from a loss to Oklahoma State that ended a three-game winning streak and knocked them out of the Top 25 after just one week back in the poll.
“I think we understood what was at stake,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “Didn’t play our best game but I thought when it mattered most we kind of dug in and we had some separation.”
Xavier Sneed had 15 points for the Wildcats (9-17, 2-11), whose six-game losing streak is their longest since 2005, a season after tying Texas Tech for the Big 12 regular-season championship. Sneed left late in the game with cramps.
“I thought that was one of X’s best games of the year overall,” Weber said. “He played to exhaustion.”
Moretti finished 4 of 10 from long range and tied Edwards and Ramsey for the team lead with four assists. Edwards, who had a career-high 24 points in a win at Kansas State in January, was 5 of 9 from the field.
Moretti’s 3 for a 47-42 lead after Diarra’s missed dunk came not long after he had both of his steals in the game.
“It was a big-time moment,” the junior from Italy said. “I thought that was the crucial moment of the game, and I think we responded pretty good after that play.”
Before Diarra’s ill-advised play, the junior guard and Weber had a heated exchange going into a timeout. Diarra clapped emphatically toward Weber after shouting at him, and Weber slammed a stool onto the court.
Diarra went back in the game but was benched almost immediately after the missed dunk and didn’t return. Weber downplayed the exchange after the game.
“Great passion, great energy on the bench, trying to play hard, trying to get them to play at a high level,” Weber said.
BIG PICTURE
Kansas State: Diarra’s missed dunk came right after his nifty reverse layup had pulled the Wildcats within two. It was a symbolic moment for a team virtually assured of a losing record after three straight 20-win seasons under Weber. Kansas State is headed for its worst record in 20 years.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have been difficult to figure out coming off the best season in school history, which ended with a loss to Virginia in overtime in the national championship game. They’ll be favored in the next three games before finishing the regular season against the Big 12’s two best teams: top-ranked Baylor on the road and No. 3 Kansas at home.
LAST-MINUTE FLURRY
Antonio Gordon hit a pair of 3s just 10 seconds apart as the Wildcats trimmed a 13-point deficit with 1:37 remaining to five with 38 seconds to go. But Kansas State couldn’t get any closer. Gordon had 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
PAIR OF 9s
Redshirt freshman guard Kevin McCullar and senior forward TJ Holyfield scored nine points apiece, while McCullar led Texas Tech with six rebounds and Holyfield added five along with Edwards.
UP NEXT
Kansas State hosts Texas and Texas Tech visits Iowa State on Saturday.
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No. 3 Kansas scores final 9 points, beats No. 14 WVU 58-49

By JOHN RABY AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Kansas caught West Virginia in a rare late lapse at home.
Devon Dotson scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime, Isaiah Moss had seven of his 13 points during a second-half burst and the third-ranked Jayhawks finished the game with a 9-0 run to beat the 14th-ranked Mountaineers 58-49 on Wednesday night.
Kansas (21-3, 10-1 Big 12) won for the ninth straight time and remains a game behind first-place Baylor.
“This was not artistic at all,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “It was a grind-it-out, tough road win that you have sometimes when you’re going through your second round of conference (play). That was a really good road win for us.”
West Virginia (18-6, 6-5) fell flat in the end after leading by as many as nine points in each half and lost at home for the first time this season.
West Virginia has the Big 12’s best defense in terms of field-goal percentage, but it was Kansas that hunkered down on defense when it mattered. Kansas’ Marcus Garrett had four of his five steals over the final seven minutes.
“He just took guys with the game on the line and had three steals in a row on three consecutive possessions,” Self said. “He’s unbelievable defensively. I thought he controlled the game on that end.”
West Virginia is stumbling after rising as high as No. 12 in the AP Top 25 last month. It has lost two straight with another big test coming up Saturday at No. 1 Baylor.
Several turnovers and poor shot choices by West Virginia allowed Kansas to forge ahead for good. The Mountaineers scored just one point and failed to hit a field goal over the final six minutes.
In the key final minutes, Kansas “got the loose balls,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “Every ball that got tipped in the air on a rebound, they got. They beat us to the ball.”
The Jayhawks had lost in five of their previous seven trips to Morgantown. Moss said the Jayhawks knew this one was going to be another tough test.
“We just had to lock in,” Moss said.
It took some time, but Moss and Kansas finally did.
Moss made four free throws and a 3-pointer in the span of 1:10 to put Kansas ahead 54-49 with 4:42 remaining. Dotson hit four free throws in the final 2 minutes to complete the scoring.
“We won the game, but I don’t know if we would have won unless Isaiah was in the game,” Self said. “He really helped us.”
West Virginia held a significant rebounding advantage and dominated the offensive glass in both of its meetings with Kansas. The Jayhawks made the most of a season-low 45 shot attempts Wednesday.
After the two previous games, Huggins criticized his young team, which includes a freshman and three sophomore starters, for lacking motivation, the proper attitude and attention to coaching instructions.
The Mountaineers came out strong in the first half Wednesday but were held to their lowest point production of the season. For the second time in three games they committed 19 turnovers and shot below 32% from the floor.
“I would hope that as they mature and get better and go through the grind, I would hope that they would respond and get tougher, be more active, guard better, pass better,” Huggins said.
Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe held Kansas 7-footer Udoka Azubuike to nine points and seven rebounds, both under his season averages. But Tshiebwe, who led the Mountaineers with 14 points and nine rebounds, was limited to two points after halftime. West Virginia’s Jordan McCabe tied a season high with 10 points.
“We know the things we need to do better,” McCabe said. “That’s our job, to get right back at it tomorrow.”
BIG PICTURE
Kansas: The Jayhawks earned a hard-to-get win in Morgantown and have taken eight of the last nine meetings against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers are in danger of losing a very high seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Last week, the NCAA penciled in West Virginia as a No. 2 seed.
STUCK ON 878
Huggins missed another chance to tie North Carolina’s Dean Smith for sixth among Division I coaches with 879 victories.
UP NEXT
Kansas hosts Oklahoma on Saturday. The Jayhawks beat the Sooners 66-52 on Jan. 14 in Norman, Oklahoma.
West Virginia has its first matchup of the season with Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas. The Mountaineers have dropped three straight on the road.
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West Virginia backup QB Trey Lowe plans to transfer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia backup quarterback Trey Lowe said he plans to play elsewhere as a graduate transfer this fall.
Lowe announced his intentions Thursday on Twitter.
Lowe, who saw limited action in six games last fall, said he will graduate from West Virginia this summer.
He joins another West Virginia backup quarterback in transferring. Jack Allison has joined Division II West Liberty as a graduate transfer. They played behind Austin Kendall and Jarret Doege in 2019.

Bobby Bowden to speak at Marshall awards dinner

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden will speak at an awards dinner at Marshall University this spring.
Marshall announced Tuesday that Bowden will attend the dinner that recognizes donors and honors student-athletes. It will be held April 24 at the Mountain Health Arena in Huntington.
Bowden won two national championships at Florida State University and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
He was West Virginia University’s coach in 1970 when a plane crash involving the Marshall football team killed 75 people. After the crash, Bowden welcomed the new Marshall coaching staff to Morgantown to study West Virginia’s spring practices.
Big Green Scholarship Foundation executive director John Sutherland said in a news release that Bowden’s compassion for Marshall University “will never be forgotten.”
This year is the 50th anniversary of the plane crash.

West, Beyers lead Marshall past Louisiana Tech 83-79 in OT

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Jarrod West totaled 25 points and seven assists and Mikel Beyers came off the bench to score a career-high 24 as Marshall held off Louisiana Tech 83-79 in overtime on Saturday.
West sank 9 of 15 shots from the floor with four 3-pointers for the Thundering Herd (12-13, 6-6 Conference USA). Beyers sank 6 of 9 from 3-point range and added six rebounds. Taevion Kinsey pitched in with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Amorie Archibald made 1 of 2 free throws with 22 seconds remaining in regulation to give Louisiana Tech a 68-66 lead, but Beyers buried a jumper with 5 seconds left to force overtime. Beyers opened the extra period with a 3-pointer and Marshall never trailed although the Bulldogs pulled even twice. West hit a 3-pointer with 64 seconds left in OT after Louisiana Tech closed within a point and the Thundering Herd closed out the victory from there.
Kalob Ledoux led six players in double figures with 16 points for the Bulldogs (17-7, 8-4). Mubarak Muhammed added 12 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Reserve Andrew Gordon scored 12 with eight rebounds, while Jacolby Pemberton had 12 points and seven boards. Amorie Archibald added 11 points and Daquan Bracey scored 10, but the pair made only 6 of 23 shots from the field.
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Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (17-6, 8-3) at Marshall Thundering Herd (11-13, 5-6)
Conference USA

Doolittle helps Oklahoma top No. 13 West Virginia 69-59

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — It’d been awhile since Kristian Doolittle was Oklahoma’s top offensive option.
The Sooners needed it Saturday and Doolittle delivered, scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds as Oklahoma knocked off No. 13 West Virginia 69-59 at home Saturday.
Doolittle hadn’t scored in double figures in three weeks but it didn’t take him long to get going on the offensive end against the Mountaineers.
Early on, it was at the free-throw line as the Sooners fought to hang in the game even as West Virginia dominated the boards early.
But then Oklahoma’s lone senior really got going.
In a 17-2 first-half run that lifted the Sooners from a deficit to a 10-point lead in a six-minute span, Doolittle scored eight points.
He hit two 3-pointers in that stretch, his first makes from behind the arc since Jan. 14.
“People weren’t guarding me,” Doolittle said. “It got to a point where it’s like, ‘I might as well shoot.’ Then when you start making them, they have to game plan you a lot differently.
“It makes the game a whole lot easier when you’re a threat from deep.”
The senior played a role in helping break West Virginia’s press, regularly bringing the ball upcourt.
The Mountaineers have been known for their pressure defense since Bob Huggins arrived but this year it hasn’t been as big of a part of their defensive plan.
“We are not very good at it or we would do it more,” Huggins said.
Doolittle said his confidence was elevated from the start.
“If I was open, just shoot it regardless if I was going to make it or miss it,” he said. “Just to have a next-shot mentality. I feel like that was in my head the past few games but (with) the confidence that the coaching staff and my teammates instilled in me, I was able to come out here with a fresh mind.”
With Doolittle in a funk, Oklahoma had leaned heavily on Brady Manek on the offensive end.
Manek had a rough go of it against West Virginia, shooting just 1 of 6 from inside the 3-point line to finish with 11 points.
For the second consecutive game, Huggins wasn’t happy with his team’s performance.
Wednesday against Iowa State, it was the Mountaineers’ poor free-throw shooting that irked Huggins.
Against Oklahoma, it was his team’s inability to finish at the rim.
West Virginia was just 11 of 31 on layups in the loss.
“Seems impossible, but we missed 22 shots within two feet of the basket,” Huggins said.
West Virginia shot a season-worst 31.6% from the field. Before hitting five consecutive 3-pointers to end the game, the Mountaineers were 1 of 10 from beyond the arc.
BIG PICTURE
Oklahoma: While the Sooners’ NCAA Tournament resume was solid but not spectacular heading into the game, they were in desperate need of a signature win. Oklahoma is in the midst of a stretch where they play six of eight games against teams either ranked or one spot out of the poll. The win was the first for the Sooners against a ranked opponent this season.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers dropped to 1-3 on the road in Big 12 play. West Virginia remains solidly in the NCAA Tournament field but they’re entering a rough week on the schedule, with No. 1 Baylor on the road after a midweek home game against No. 3 Kansas.
STAT LINES
West Virginia came into the game No. 4 nationally in rebounding margin, leading the Big 12 and averaging more than nine more rebounds per game than its opponents.
Oklahoma was No. 264 in the country and next-to-last in the league in the category.
West Virginia dominated the boards early, outrebounding the Sooners 14-7 in the first 9:35 of the game.
But after that, Oklahoma turned things around, outrebounding the Mountaineers 35-27 the rest of the way to beat West Virginia on the glass, 42-41.
It was just the fourth time this season West Virginia had been outrebounded.
UP NEXT
West Virginia hosts No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday. The Jayhawks beat the Mountaineers, 60-53, on Jan. 4 in both teams’ Big 12 opener. West Virginia is 5-1 against Kansas at home since 2014.
Oklahoma hosts Iowa State on Wednesday. The Sooners fell 81-68 at the Cyclones on Jan. 11. Oklahoma hasn’t beaten the Cyclones since 2018.

No. 12 West Virginia beats K-State, Huggins moves past Rupp

By MATT THORNSBURY Associated Press
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Derek Culver wanted to do something about West Virginia’s worst loss of the season.
The sophomore had 19 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 12 West Virginia to a 66-57 victory over Kansas State on Saturday, giving coach Bob Huggins another milestone win.
The Mountaineers (17-4, 5-3 Big 12) bounced back from a loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday, improved to 11-0 at home and ended a three-game losing streak to Kansas State.
On Jan. 18 the Wildcats drubbed West Virginia 84-68 in which Culver, the Big 12’s fourth-leading rebounder, was limited to eight points and three rebounds.
“They did us pretty bad last time at K-State,” Culver said. “We don’t forget anything.”
With no one else on the team making more than three field goals, Culver took it upon himself to preserve the home win streak.
“We had to come out here and return the favor,” Culver said. “We didn’t really get them as bad as they did us at K-State, but we came out with aggression and tried to set the tone from the jump.”
Huggins earned his 877th career win to move past Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp into seventh place all time in Division I. Huggins hasn’t paid much attention to the feat, preferring to deflect attention in the past week away from himself.
“You’re not much of a player if you don’t respond after a loss,” Huggins said. “Anybody who’s coached for a while will tell you, it’s so much harder to get up after a big win than a big loss.”
Culver, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, went to the locker room in pain early in the second half after his right elbow collided with Kansas State’s Montavious Murphy. Culver returned to the game wearing a sleeve on his arm a short time later and completed his fifth double-double of the season.
“He’s 6’11” and 250, he’s a pretty big dude,” West Virginia guard Chase Harler said. “He just goes for every rebound and having that mentality (that) you’re going to get more than you miss.”
Sean McNeil sank a pair of free throws to cap a 9-0 run that gave the Mountaineers their largest lead, 49-35, with nine minutes remaining. Kansas State got no closer than eight points after that.
Huggins used 11 players in the first three minutes of the game to try to find the right combination.
Culver, whose layup midway through the first half put West Virginia ahead to stay, went 8 of 15 from the floor. But he made just 3 of 9 free throws after going 14 of 16 from the line against Texas Tech.
David Sloan scored 13 points and Xavier Sneed added 11 for Kansas State (9-12, 2-6).
The teams combined for 44 fouls and 54 free throws. On Wednesday, West Virginia and Texas Tech combined for 50 fouls and 73 free throws.
“Their defense was much better than at our place obviously, but you know, credit to our guys,” said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber. “We’ve made improvement. We’ve battled. I would like them to play a little sharper and crisp, but part of that is how West Virginia plays.”
BIG PICTURE
Kansas State has lost five straight games on the road. The Wildcats made 58% of their field goals in beating West Virginia 84-68 at home on Jan. 18 but shot 37% (18 of 49) on Saturday, including 3 of 17 3-point attempts.
West Virginia has allowed an average of 54 points in its last five home games, 14 points less than its last four road games.
“It wasn’t a good shooting night for anybody, was it?” Huggins said. “We didn’t shoot it. They didn’t shoot it, and it makes it an ugly game. I don’t mind ugly games as long as we win them.”
HONORING A FRIEND
Huggins spoke at a memorial service Friday in Cincinnati for former Bearcats player, assistant coach and long-time radio broadcaster Chuck Machock. A member of Cincinnati’s Athletic Hall of Fame, Machock died Jan. 4 at 82.
Huggins told stories about Machock and referred to him as “my second dad” and my “best friend in the world.”
POLL IMPLICATIONS
West Virginia could drop a spot or two in the AP Top 25 after the loss at Texas Tech.
UP NEXT
Kansas State hosts top-ranked Baylor on Monday
West Virginia hosts Iowa State on Wednesday
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