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SEEKING 900TH WIN

Huggins can reach plateau today with WVU victory over Cowboys

Photo courtesy of Dale Sparks/WVU Athletics Communications WVU’s Bob Huggins can earn his 900th- career coaching win today against Oklahoma State.

MORGANTOWN — Fresh off a blowout win over TCU, the No. 6 West Virginia men’s basketball team is rolling into their regular-season finale with some momentum.

As head coach Bob Huggins is searching for his 900th career win, a mark reached only by five other Division I coaches in history, the Mountaineers will probably need it.

They’re hosting the No. 17 Oklahoma State Cowboys this afternoon — definitely not a slouch of an opponent by any means. The game tips off from the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown at 2 p.m., and it will be televised on ESPN2.

West Virginia barely scraped out an 87-84 win against the Cowboys earlier this year after facing a 10-point deficit at halftime.

Prior to losing to No. 3 Baylor on Thursday, the Cowboys won their last three games — all against ranked opponents.

Cade Cunningham, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2021, scored 25 points against the Mountaineers on Jan. 4. He’s arguably the best player in the Big 12, leading the conference with an average of 19.7 points per game, and is Oklahoma State’s most influential playmaker.

Yet Stadium basketball reporter Jeff Goodman said Friday that Cunningham was questionable for Saturday’s game due to an ankle injury he suffered Thursday against Baylor.

If the freshman guard does play, he’ll be a factor. Cunningham enters Saturday’s game having scored 20 or more points in four of his last five appearances, including a 40-point game against Oklahoma on Feb. 27.

“They’d been playing him on the perimeter. They inverted him and put him on the post and he dropstepped and dunked it over top of a 6’10” guy (against Baylor on Thursday),” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said of Cunningham.

“I don’t know what to expect. They can play him there, they can play him on the wing. He’s played point guard. He’s a talented, talented guy.”

Guard Isaac Likekele, who scored a season-high 22 points against West Virginia earlier this season, also is questionable to play on Saturday. He did not play on Thursday due to a hand injury, and has been sidelined since Feb. 22.

The Cowboys aren’t the only one with injury concerns as Jordan McCabe, WVU’s primary reserve guard who is averaging 12 minutes off of the bench, is currently day-to-day with a lower back injury. His status for today’s game is unknown.

The Mountaineers will counter with a host of strong offensive playmakers of their own. A trio of Mountaineers — Miles McBride, Derek Culver and Taz Sherman — each reached the 20-point plateau the last time the two teams met, and the three lead the team in scoring, ranked first, second and third, respectively.

If forward Jalen Bridges, who achieved his first-career double-double on Thursday, continues to keep up his recent success, the Cowboys could find themselves like deer caught in the headlights.

“As this season went on, I’ve definitely gotten way more comfortable out there,” Bridges said following his 22-point, 12-rebound performance against TCU.

“The speed of the game has slowed down a little bit to me now. I’m just taking what comes to me, I’m not really trying to force anything. I’m out there just being as active as possible, just trying to do everything I can to help my team win.”

A West Virginia win on Saturday will clinch the No. 2 position in the Big 12 behind Baylor, who earned the No. 1 ranking with Tuesday’s win over the Mountaineers. The Big 12 Championship tournament is slated to begin next week.

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