With the exception of a four-point win that the Mountaineers almost blew at the Coliseum against Kansas State, WVU (20-6, 8-5 Big 12 Conference) was struggling mightily - having lost three out of four games. But things have changed a bit now that No. 23 West Virginia beat No. 8 Kansas Monday night thanks to some last-second heroics by point guard Juwan Staten.
As Bob Huggins' WVU squad heads to Stillwater for an important tilt against Oklahoma State, it has been able to get a bit of its mojo back after admittedly starting to get a little down when it was struggling. And in order to be successful against a schedule like what West Virginia faces down the stretch, there's no time to feel down on themselves.
"With a very challenging schedule coming up, that was the most important thing (the win against Kansas) did," Huggins said during his teleconference Friday. "It gave us some of our confidence back."
Like every other team in the Big 12, Oklahoma State will be no slouch for the Mountaineers this weekend. The Cowboys (17-9, 7-7) found their way back into the top 25 a few weeks ago after a three-game win streak in which they beat a then-ranked Texas team on the road, as well as Kansas and Baylor to put themselves back in the conversation to be among some of the league's best teams. But since then things have gotten tough, dropping their last two games to TCU and Iowa State.
OSU is led by junior guard Phil Forte and senior forward Le'Bryan Nash.
Forte has evolved into one of the top guards in the Big 12 this season, currently ranking third in the Big 12 in points per game (16.5) and leading the conference in steals per game while also being near the top in three-point and free throw percentage. His ability to consistently make shots will make him tough for the Mountaineers to handle.
"He's a terrific shooter," Huggins said. "He really does a great job of using screens and he goes at a high pace."
Nash came to Oklahoma State as a highly regarded recruit and McDonald's all-American a few seasons ago, and seems to be putting it all together in his senior season with the Cowboys. Nash's 17 points per game is second behind Okahoma's Buddy Hield and he is also tied for the team lead with 5.7 rebounds per game.
The 6-foot-7 swingman from Dallas is one of the more versatile players in the Big 12 and is a threat to score it from outside or slash to the bucket to get to the rim with ease.
"He's a very difficult matchup. He can make perimeter shots and he's as good as anyone in the league at bouncing it to the goal," Huggins said.