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Brown Hits Game Winner As No. 11 OSU Beats West Virginia

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MORGANTOWN, West Virginia -

Markel Brown hadn't hit a 3-pointer since Dec. 17 but he sure picked a nice time to break out of that slump on Saturday.

With the Cowboys trailing 72-70, Marcus Smart penetrated into the heart of the West Virginia defense and found a wide-open Brown out on the wing. Brown, who had only connected on two of his previous 24 3-point attempts, caught the pass, pumped faked a Mountaineer defender and calmly buried the game-winning 3 with 14 seconds remaining.

A standout defensive possession on the other end solidified the victory and lifted the 11th-ranked Cowboys to a thrilling 73-72 victory in Morgantown against a pesky, motivated WVU squad.

Brown's clutch 3 might have delivered the win in the end, but this was a team effort in every sense of the term.

West Virginia came to play with a high-energy, opportunistic game plan and Oklahoma State (14-2, 2-1 Big 12) received key – and needed -- contributions up and down its roster to take the Mountaineers best shot and come out victorious.

The "big three" were particularly crucial for OSU with a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds from Smart, 12 points and seven boards from Brown, and a well-balanced game from Le'Bryan Nash resulted in 18 points and six boards on 7-of-13 shooting.

And all three showed up big at key times to stave off the upset bid from the Mountaineers (10-6, 2-1).

West Virginia started off hot, jumping out to a quick 10-4 lead but Smart scored five of OSU's first seven points and 12 overall in the first half to overcome a haymaker of a first half from WVU, as the Cowboys trailed 41-39 at the break but it could have been considerably worse. West Virginia led by as much as seven and looked poised to go on a run but Smart and Nash came up with several key baskets to thwart its efforts in front of a lively home crowd.

OSU came out much stronger in the second half, using a 7-2 run right out of the gates to take its first lead of the game on a Smart 3-pointer with 16:58 remaining.

But, much to the Mountaineers' credit, they fired back with a 7-0 run of their own to reclaim the lead. Then the Pokes were delivered what appeared to be a massive blow at the 12:19 mark.

With WVU leading 51-49, Smart fouled Terry Henderson under the basket to pick up a costly third personal foul and was forced to go to the bench with more than 12 minutes left and momentum certainly siding with the home team.

But after Henderson went 1-for-2 at the foul line and the Cowboys' All-America point guard on the sidelines, Oklahoma State showed exactly why its the 11th-ranked team in the country.

Nash bulldozed his way to a contested layup, the Cowboys forced a turnover, Phil Forte buried a 3-pointer, and Brown stole a lazy pass and slammed it on the other end. And, just like that, OSU bounced back to match its largest lead of the game at 56-52 with 10 minutes left.

Then, much to the displeasure of the Cowboys and the viewing public, an obscene amount of whistles took over the contest; practically all in favor of West Virginia.

In fact, WVU scored 21 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half – 14 of them came from the foul line.

After a 3-pointer from Henderson with 4:58 remaining stopped a streak of 10-of-12 points coming from the charity stripe, WVU had managed to stay within two points of the Cowboys, who had made three out of four from the foul line in the second half total. Suffice to say, the calls were going West Virginia's way and the Pokes had their backs against the wall in the final minutes and a back-and-forth contest had presented itself.

After a Juwan Staten layup knotted the game at 67-all, Kamari Murphy was fouled under the basket and made 1-of-2 from the line to give the Pokes a slim 68-67 advantage. Then two possessions later, Smart tipped in a Nash miss to give OSU a three-point lead with 3:33 remaining.

But, just as the Cowboys have done time-and-time again this season, they went into a poorly-timed late-game scoring slump. WVU took advantage with a 5-0 run, capped by a Henderson 3, to grab a 72-70 lead with 1:20 left.

However, just when the Pokes needed it most, they came up with the winning basket on Brown's 3 with 14 seconds left to avoid a potentially catastrophic 0-2 start on the road in conference play, coming up with the exact play they failed to make in Manhattan one week ago.

This team is clearly still learning to find itself after the season-ending injury to starting center Michael Cobbins, particularly in stopping lane penetration which played a substantial role in the vast second-half foul disparity, but any road win in the Big 12 is a good one.

Kamari Murphy continued to fill in for Cobbins nicely with seven points and five boards, while Phil Forte scored eight points off the bench on 3-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

Henderson led West Virginia with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting and an efficient 5-of-7 showing from 3. Staten added 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while freshman Devin Williams chipped in 12 points and 13 rebounds.

OSU outshot the Mountaineers 45 percent to 41.4 percent and WVU was limited to just 35 percent in the second half. However, the Mountaineers outscored the Pokes 14-4 from the free-throw line in the second half to make up for it and keep the contest competitive.

The Cowboys took advantage of their athleticism in transition with an 8-2 edge in fastbreak points and an 18-9 advantage in points off turnovers.

Oklahoma State returns home on Wednesday to face a struggling TCU squad that started 0-3 in conference play, including back-to-back blowouts against Kansas State and Baylor. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

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