The Mountaineers were able to hold off the Cowboys as they tried to make a run late to cut into a lead and make things interesting. But unlike in Tuesday's road test against Kansas in which the Mountaineers saw their lead quickly diminish right before their eyes before leaving Lawrence with their second loss in a row, they were able to avoid a similar fate Saturday by doing the little things that they weren't able to do against the Jayhawks to help bury the Cowboys, even without seniors Juwan Staten and Gary Browne who remain out with a knee and ankle injury, respectively.
"We've told them a million times that we've never lost three in a row (this season)," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "They're not going to let the season go. They're too competitive to do that. Why are some people that way and others aren't? I don't know."
Once Oklahoma State cut the WVU lead to just eight with a little more than three minutes to play in the game, the Mountaineers came alive and held on to the lead using its defense and by making clutch foul shots down the stretch. The Cowboys made just two of their last eight attempts from the field in the final 3:18 while West Virginia found a way to convert on nine of the 12 attempts from the charity stripe - all of which came with less than two minutes to play in the game.
"Devin (Williams) was obviously very good at the free throw line. We still missed some free throws," Huggins said. "You don't understand unless you've done it. It's a lot easier to make free throws when you're up 10 instead of one or two. When we played Kansas, we were up one or two, and you had young guys shooting who didn't have a lot of experience."
The Mountaineers' 6-foot-9 big man was the one who led the way. Williams grabbed 13 rebounds to go with his 22 points, 14 of which came from the foul line, and the sophomore had three assists as well. It was Williams' eighth double-double of the season.
And he was one of the catalysts who helped the Mountaineers get started on the right foot Saturday. He scored six early points in the first half as West Virginia went back and forth with the Cowboys for the majority of the first half. Things finally started to shift into WVU's favor with about nine minutes to play in the opening period as the Mountaineers used a quick 6-0 run to extend a two-point lead to eight before going ahead by as many as 11 and heading into the locker room with a six-point advantage.
In the second half, things stayed in the Mountaineers' favor as WVU was able to extend the lead to 15 points before holding off the late rally by the Cowboys.
"What has really helped is that we play a lot of people," Huggins said.
"It's not like it's the first time they're out there when we play them, so I think that's what helps us."
Freshman Daxter Miles was the only other Mountaineers in double figures, although four others had at least eight points against Oklahoma State. The freshman shooting guard was 5-for-10 from the field and scored 15 points while grabbing three rebounds.
Oklahoma State was led by guard Jeff Newberry. The junior college transfer finished with a game-high 23 points, while Anthony Hickey, Phil Forte and Le'Bryan Nash scored 17, 13 and 10 points, respectively.