KANSAS CITY, MO. – (March 11, 2021) — In the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, the No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated the No. 4 West Virginia Mountaineers, 72-69, after Sean McNeil’s 3-point shot to tie was after the buzzer.
“We had ran the same set I think three times and we had their defense really shifted to Taz (Sherman) aside, and I was trying to get Deuce (McBride) to hear me that to take it to Taz and then swing it back to Sean (McNeil),” WVU coach Bob Huggins explained after the loss.
In the first half, the Mountaineers (18-9, 11-7 Big 12) played well, shooting 47% from the field, while holding the Cowboys to 38% shooting. West Virginia was able to force 13 turnovers by OSU, scoring 13 points off of it. Miles McBride had an amazing first-half performance, scoring 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting. McBride—a sophomore guard—stole the ball and scored twice in the final 12 seconds to take the Mountaineers into the half with a 6-point lead.
It seemed like WVU was going to be able to run away early in the second half, getting an 8-point lead with 12 minutes to go. The final 14 minutes were nothing like the first 28 minutes for West Virginia. The Cowboys went on an 18-3 run to take a 10-point lead.
The Mountaineers were able to punch back, rallying a late comeback. With 20 seconds left down by three, Huggins went for the tie. McBride kicked it out to Taz Sherman who got blocked but Derek Culver was able to keep the play alive and find Sean McNeil. McNeil bobbled the ball and with a swarm of Cowboys’ coming after him, had to pump fake. When the junior guard finally shot the ball, the buzzer had already sounded. McNeil made the shot but was a second late.
McBride finished the game with 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting in the loss. The 6-foot-2 guard dished out six assists and stole the ball three times.
Sherman finished with 19 points as well, making five 3-point shots. The former JUCO prospect hit three 3-pointers that were crucial in getting the Mountaineers back in the game.
One of the big stories of the day was Culver’s illness throughout the game. In the first half, Culver looked awful, sometimes laying down in the bench area. At the half, the junior forward was given an IV and showed a little bit more life in the second half. Culver finished with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting and brought down nine rebounds in 30 minutes of play.
“He obviously wasn’t feeling himself but, you know, he’s a warrior,” McBride said. “He’s one of our toughest guys on the team.”
“Derek showed a lot of courage,” Huggins said. “I mean, he was having a hard time walking, much less running up and down on the floor and then he had the one flurry that kind of got us back in the game.”
Oklahoma State will now take on the regular-season champion Baylor Bears, while the Mountaineers will have to wait over 72 hours until they hear their name on Selection Sunday.