By JASON ELMQUIST
STILLWATER — For once, the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team caught a lucky break.
With classes starting back up next week, the Cowboys will get the opportunity to take their longest conference road game Saturday when No. 11 OSU faces West Virginia at 3 p.m. in Morgantown, W. Va. — which will be televised on the Big 12 Network (Suddenlink channel 11).
“I’m glad we get to knock this trip out while we’re still on the break,” Cowboy forward Brian Williams said. “It’s hectic when school is in.”
Though players like Williams and senior Markel Brown have been through the Big 12 Conference circuit several times, last year’s trip to the East Coast in middle of the conference schedule was new for all. Williams likened it to playing a non-conference game with the amount of travel — approximately five hours of flying round trip.
“It was a different feeling. It has a different atmosphere,” Brown said. “It kind of felt like traveling to Colorado my freshman year. But we’ve got a lot of guys with years under their belt, so they should be prepared for anything a team throws at them in a hostile environment.”
But that’s about where the lucky breaks end for this trip.
The Mountaineers head into Saturday’s game on three-game winning streak, claiming their first two Big 12 games on the road — a 74-69 victory over TCU and an 89-86 overtime thriller at Texas Tech.
West Virginia features the conference’s second-leading scorer in Eron Harris, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard who is averaging 18.5 points per game. The Mountaineers also feature one of the conference’s top rebounders in freshman forward Devin Williams, who is listed at 6-9, 255 pounds. Williams is fifth in the conference, averaging 7.7 rebounds a contest.
Junior point guard Juwan Staten is one of the league’s top shooters — ranking fourth in field goal percentage at 52.1 percent to help average 16.8 per game — and is second in the Big 12 with 6 assists a game.
“They’re really fast and they’re playing confident ball right now,” Williams said of Saturday’s opponent. “They have some guys back from last year and they are looking really confident and playing good.”