Late trey lifts No. 11 Cowboys over Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN – It was on the tip of everyone’s tongue as they left the WVU Coliseum.

Man, this team is so close to being great. They just need that one big win.

Those fans aren’t the only ones who believe West Virginia has a chance to be a great basketball team.

The players believe it, too.

“Everybody has seen it,” Eron Harris said. “We can beat these teams. We almost beat Wisconsin, we almost beat Purdue. Every big game we have, we almost win.”

Same thing happened Saturday against No. 11 Oklahoma State.

The Mountaineers almost won. Instead, they came up one-point short.

“The game is right there for us,” Harris said. “Think about what (Oklahoma State) did. They hit the shot to win the game. We missed it. That’s it. We’re right there. That team didn’t beat us. We beat ourselves.”

It was Markel Brown’s 3-pointer that sealed it for the Cowboys. It wasn’t what won the game.

It was West Virginia shooting just 7 of 20 in the second half. It was West Virginia allowing Oklahoma State to earn 26 points of its points in the paint. It was West Virginia letting the Cowboys answer every time it made a big shot in the second half to take away any momentum gained.

“I think something that some people aren’t thinking about is maybe some people aren’t used to winning,” Harris said. “They’re not used to being that guy who won that big game. They’re not used to being on that team that won that big game. Some people are scared to be great like that.

“It’s a mental thing. At the end of the game, can you be as confident as you are at the beginning of the game? In big games, are you as comfortable as you are in small games? I think that great players aren’t scared to be great, aren’t scared to be the winner.”

Juwan Staten has proven he’s not scared to be great.

The junior finished with 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

“Juwan is trying to win games,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said. “I wish everybody else would follow suit sometimes. I told you that he has worked his tail off. He studies; he comes in to play. He doesn’t take practice off, and I wish everybody would do the same thing.”

Players have been stepping up for the Mountaineers; it’s just not been on a regular basis.

Terry Henderson had 21 points, including 5 of 7 from 3, as he finished with his greatest offensive output of the season.

Harris, on the other hand, had only 11 points on 3 of 11 shooting and had one of his worst offensive performances of the season.

“We just want to be consistent,” Staten said. “We feel like if we keep plugging at it and do everything we need to do, do everything that coach asks us to do, we’ll start producing. That’s the only thing that’s on our minds. We don’t worry about the outcome or what happens. We just want to do everything that we’re suppose to do. If we take care of us then that should take care of the game.”

“If we get that big win that we’ve been working for, that’s just going to take us over the top mentally,” Harris said. “I think that you’re going to see a new team once we get that big win. Good thing about our conference is we have a lot of good teams. Every game is going to be a big game. Every single one of them. Ranked teams after ranked teams. We’re going to have to fight. That’s a lot of chances to build confidence.”