The Cowboys had a chance to run away early in the second half after Smart hit a 3 in a tie game, but the Mountaineers answered with a 7-point spurt
Later, Oklahoma State went on a 9-1 run to flip a 3-point deficit into a 5-point advantage, yet West Virginia still made a late charge and led in the final minute against a team that will likely re-enter the top 10 when the polls are released today.
"After giving that effort, I'm not frustrated," Harris said. "I know we have good things to come."
Playing toe-to-toe with an Oklahoma State team that could be a 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA tournament tends to spark optimism. While WVU has yet to snag a win against a team in the top 150 of the RPI, the Cowboys have seven of them.
Yours truly holds the state's only Associated Press top 25 ballot and, as one can find on a website like Pollspeak.com, Oklahoma State appeared in my top 5 the first nine weeks. If not for the untimely injury to big man Michael Cobbins and brief suspension of guard Jeffrey Clark, perhaps the Cowboys would still be there.
What the Cowboys lack in height they more than make up in athleticism and NBA-ready bodies. Their backcourt should be considered second to none, yet OSU coach Travis Ford said after Saturday's game that WVU's combination of Harris, Henderson and Juwan Staten "are as good as any in the league."
Oklahoma State and West Virginia will tangle again Jan. 25 in Stillwater, Okla. It will likely be the Mountaineers' next shot at a nationally ranked team. Home games against Texas (tonight) and Texas Tech (Jan. 22) sandwich a road trip to Kansas State (Saturday), the only Big 12 team to knock off Oklahoma State this season.
Nine of the final 15 conference games could come against ranked teams.
The Mountaineers don't have any Smarts, but what they've got should be the answer to this run of futility against the nation's best ... or at least a quality opponent.
As Huggins said after Saturday's showdown slipped away:
Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcg...@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-7949. Follow him on Twitter @chuckmcgill.