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Osabuohien and Bridges lead WVU to win over Oklahoma State

A strong first half from forward Gabe Osabuohien and a career high 22 points from Jalen Bridges, propelled West Virginia to a 70-60 win over Oklahoma State on Tuesday night at the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) have been waiting for Bridges to get going offensively and he was able to get going early with three layups in the first half. All three layups were assisted by Taz Sherman.

Bridges said Sherman’s passing was able to get him going early and having a teammate like that is an added bonus.

“Having a player that you can that synced up with all it takes is one second of eye contact and I go,” Bridges said. It’s great to play with guys like that.”

Another key contribution came from Osabuohien in the first 20 minutes. Osabuohien had nine points, six rebounds, three fouls drawn, and went 3-for-3 at the free throw line in the first half and Osabuohien said he was using Oklahoma State’s (8-6, 1-2 Big 12) smaller lineup to his advantage.

“Just trying to be aggressive,” Osabuohien said on his mindset in the first half. “They had a really small lineup so I knew I could, attack and have an easy shot over the guards in the four spot. I felt comfortable I was just playing basketball. Made my free throws.”

The Mountaineers trailed 12-10 with 11:23 left in the first half, but went on a 17-4 run to go ahead 27-16. In that span Osabuohien made three free throws and two rebounds. Osabuohien set a theme of a strong free throw shooting night. The Mountaineers made 21-of-22 free throws and head coach Bob Huggins said it was a matter of who stepped to the line more than anything else.

“I think we had the right guys at the line,” Huggins said. “And some of our guys like Pauly [Paulicap] has really worked hard at it. [Bridges] spent a lot of time. [Osabuohien] made some, it makes a huge difference when [Osabuohien] actually makes some.”

West Virginia took a 34-23 lead into halftime, despite missing eight three-point attempts and shooting just under 37% from the field.

In the second half, Bridges showed what he is capable of. Bridges scored 12 of his 22 points and helped spark the West Virginia offense.

“He’s got a really good understanding of how to play. His dad did a great job with him growing up. He’s probably got a better understanding of what’s supposed to happen than everybody else,” Huggins said. “He does a lot of things guys don’t or can’t do.”

Despite the effort from Bridges, the Mountaineers still let the Cowboys back into the game towards the end of the second half.

With 7:37 remaining, Oklahoma State was on a 9-0 run and had cut the West Virginia lead to 53-46. Guard Malik Curry got fouled and made one of his two free throws. West Virginia then went on a 11-1 run, highlighted by Osabuohien taking a charge, followed by a Bridges layup and then a Sherman mid-range jumper to put West Virginia up 18.

Despite leading by 18 with 3:49 left, the Mountaineers let Oklahoma State creep back into the game. West Virginia scored two points over the final 3:49, both of them coming at the free throw line from Curry. Huggins said he wanted to close this game out and was disappointed his team only won by 10.

“We didn’t close the game very well. I guess a 10-point win is good,” Huggins said.

The Mountaineers will now face No. 9 Kanas on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, with the game being televised on CBS.

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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