Every time Avery Anderson possessed the ball he was reminded of his mistakes.
The Oklahoma State junior guard was consistently serenaded with jeers from the West Virginia crowd on Tuesday night in Morgantown. The booing started whenever Anderson drove into the lane or tried to create some space with a crossover move.
When Anderson air-balled 3-pointer with a little under five minutes left in the first half, a desperate attempt that missed the rim to the left, the Mountaineer fans fire got more fuel.
“Air ball” chants rained down on Anderson for the rest of the night, echoing whenever he touched the ball.
West Virginia beat Oklahoma State 70-60 in Big 12 conference play.
Mountaineer fans had plenty to jeer about, and though Anderson was the main target due to scoring 31 at West Virginia in 2020, no Cowboy was safe.
The 60-point showing was OSU’s third-lowest scoring output of the season. OSU’s (8-6, 1-2) two leading scorers, Anderson and senior guard Bryce Williams, were largely ineffective. Good defense and mistakes played a factor.
“They did good pressuring the ball,” Anderson said on Cowboy Radio Network after the game. “But at the same time, I think we shot ourselves in the foot. We had 17 turnovers. That’s not acceptable. I had five of them so I take responsibility. That is not giving us a chance to score the ball.”
Anderson scored nine points on 3-13 shooting. Williams, who shot 4-12, scored 12.
“It was a difficult night, in obviously the best basketball conference in the country” coach Mike Boynton said. “Always hard to come in here and find a way to win.”
The Mountaineers maintained a comfortable, but not overwhelming, lead throughout most of the game. Though their offense scuttled in the game as well, WVU grew its lead to 53-37 with 11:32 remaining in the game.
Mountaineer forward Jalen Bridges was a big factor WVU pulling away. He led all scorers with 22 points, a tally aided by a 10-10 night at the free throw line.
OSU found traction offensively late in the game when the Cowboys went on a 7-0 run with eight minutes remaining to cut the Mountaineer lead to seven. That would be the closest the Cowboy comeback came.
“We didn’t have enough of that type of play throughout the game to really give ourselves a great chance to win on the road against a good team," Boynton said.
Immediately following the OSU run, The Mountaineers scored ten straight points to boost their lead to 17. Part of the Mountaineer offensive success was due to sloppy OSU defense.
OSU had 23 personal fouls. WVU made an exceptional 21-22 free throws, foiling any hopes of a mistake-aided Cowboy comeback.
“We fouled on the defensive end,” Anderson said. “They hit almost every free throw. They only missed one shot, so that is what killed us at the free throw line. Fouling and putting them on the line.”
Whether it was forcing airballs or turnovers, WVU (13-2, 2-1) ensured the Cowboys could not score with consistency. When paired with scoring runs, the Mountaineers had enough to overwhelmed OSU.
“We had way too many (empty possessions) to put ourselves in a position to win,” Boynton said.