Morgantown, W.Va.- Devin Williams matched a career-high 22 points to power No.20 West Virginia past Oklahoma State 81-72 in front of a sold out Coliseum on senior day.
It was an emotional day for the four Mountaineers’ seniors. Tyrone Hughes was the only senior who dressed for the game. Kevin Noreen had been sidelined all season with a shoulder injury while Juwan State and Gary Browne were once again out with injuries.
Browne and Staten exchanged long hugs with Coach Bob Huggins and got teary eyed during senior introductions. Both players thanked the crowd for supporting them during their careers.
“You guys took me in and treated me as one of your own,” said Staten, who transferred from Dayton. “You watched me grow from a boy to a man. I could always count on basketball. I could always count on the crowd. I appreciate everything.”
“I want to thank you all for coming this day, such a special day,” Browne said. “Something so special that I will never forget for my whole life and I will carry with me for my whole life. I want to thank you guys a lot.”
Despite missing three seniors, the Mountaineers handled the Cowboys from the start.
Daxter Miles Jr. had 15 points for the Mountaineers and Williams notched his eighth double-double of the season with 13 rebounds.
Missed free throws played a role in West Virginia’s loss to No. 9 Kansas on Tuesday, but Williams was stellar from the line on Saturday afternoon. He went 14 of 15, which was vital for the Mountaineers.
The Cowboys shot 54 percent for the game but were outscored 23-9 from the free throw line.
Jeff Newberry had a career-high 23 points on 8 of 11 shooting for the Cowboys. Senior Anthony Hickey Jr. added 17 points. Phil Forte scored 13 and Le’Bryan Nash had 10.
The Mountaineers started the second half strong. Three-pointers from Jevon Carter and Miles, along with a layup from Nathan Adrian allowed the Mountaineers to take a 12-point lead.
Williams’ three-point play gave West Virginia a 53-39 lead with 14:58 left before the Mountaineers went scoreless for over three minutes.
Forte made two three-pointers to bring Oklahoma State within 55-49, but the Cowboys got no closer.
Jaysean Paige nailed a baseline jumper and a shot from beyond-the-arc that put the Mountaineers in front 65-50 with 6:43 to play.
Hickey made a huge three-pointer with 1:38 left to pull the Cowboys within seven but West Virginia was spot on from the free throw line. Miles made both free throws with 20.6 seconds left to seal the victory.
Newberry gave Oklahoma State its only lead of the game early when he began the game with a three.
Miles put the Mountaineers in control when he dropped a three-pointer to jump ahead 5-3.
Tarik Phillip’s three-pointer and driving layup gave West Virginia a 28-20 lead with 7:01 left in the half.
West Virginia led 39-33 at the half. The Mountaineers shot 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond-the-arc. They forced 11 turnovers and had four steals.
The Cowboys shot 60.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range in the first half.
Both teams will travel to Kansas City, Missouri to take part in the Big 12 tournament, which starts on Wednesday.