No. 9 WVU faces Oklahoma State for back-end of two-game road trip

Gold and Blue Nation

West Virginia men’s basketball is heading to Stillwater to close out its two-game road trip against Oklahoma State on Monday. Tip-off at the Cowboys’ Gallagher-Iba Arena is set for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The ninth-ranked Mountaineers (8-3, 1-2 Big 12) will embark on its second game after the departure of forward Oscar Tshiebwe, with the hopes of making up its disappointing 75-71 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. Inversely, the unranked Cowboys (7-2, 1-2 Big 12)demonstrated the depth of this year’s Big 12 conference when they defeated No. 13 Texas Tech in Lubbock on the same afternoon.

With the all-time series at 9-8 in favor of West Virginia, the Cowboys have a shot to even it up at nine. The Mountaineers earned the sweep last season, winning both games in Morgantown and Stillwater.

The new-look WVU squad was boosted by some familiar faces along with some newer ones. Jalen Bridges earned his first career start and he really made it count. In 27 minutes, he scored a career-high 19 points, making seven of his nine attempts (including five three-pointers). His scoring total was matched by Taz Sherman, who has been a reliable shooter for WVU with eight double-figure scoring games and an average clip of 11.3 points.

“I was just ready for the opportunity,” Bridges said. “I wish it could have been under better circumstances, but you’ve always got to be ready to step in there and produce and I feel like as soon as I saw that first one go in, it was a green light from there.”

There was clearly a need for adjustment in WVU’s inside game, however. WVU was beaten on the glass and in the paint, while star forward Derek Culver was held to just two points and six boards.

Despite the down game for Culver, he is still the Big 12’s second-leading rebounder a 9.55 per game — but right behind him is OSU’s Isaac Likekele, grabbing 8.11 rebounds. As a team, however, Oklahoma State is out-rebounding by a slight margin (less than a rebound per game).

WVU’s defense will have to find an answer for freshman Cade Cunningham, the top recruit in the 2020 class. His 18.44 points per game is the second-best mark in the conference.

This contest tips off at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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