In just their second road game against a ranked team this season, the 15th ranked West Virginia University Men’s basketball team proved to be no match for a much more disciplined, and hungrier Oklahoma side Tuesday night in Norman.
After West Virginia turned the ball over 15 times, and shot just 34.4% from the field as a team, the Sooners took full advantage as they stove off several comeback efforts by the Mountaineers late in the second half. Oklahoma went on to win the game 71-52 at the Lloyd Noble Center.
The game was highly competitive in the early going as the Mountaineers drew even with the Sooners following a made three-point jumper by Juwan Staten at the 17:12 mark of the first half. With the game tied at seven a piece, the Sooners wasted no time in gaining control of the contest on their home court as they went on an 18-4 run to establish a comfortable 27-11 lead at the 8:03 mark of the first.
While WVU would make a concerted effort to try and make it a game late in the first half, their diligence proved futile as Oklahoma continued to make baskets, force turnovers, and control the overall pace of the game.
The closest the Mountaineers would come to tying the ball game in the second half was when Elijah Macon converted a hard fought lay-up underneath the basket at the 12:56 mark of the second half to pull the Mountaineers within eight points of the Oklahoma lead (45-37).
After Oklahoma hit two consecutive baskets to go back up by 12, WVU would make one last push towards tying the game as Jevon Carter buried a clutch three-pointer at the 9:59 mark of the period. The momentum gained with Carter’s basket was short lived as OU’s Buddy Hield countered with a three-point basket of his own to put the Sooners back up by 12 (52-40).
West Virginia never held a lead in tonight’s contest, and they eventually fell behind the Sooners by as much as 21 points. In the end, the Sooners would win by 19 as they successfully exact revenge upon the Mountaineers for the embarrassing blowout loss they suffered in Morgantown a month ago.
While WVU held a healthy 38-28 advantage in the rebounding category, their shooting numbers, and sloppy ball handling both contributed to Oklahoma pulling out ahead in tonight’s ball game. The Sooners finished the night with a 61.4% field goal percentage from the field while West Virginia could only convert 34.4% of their shots.
WVU also had difficulties in forcing the Sooners into turnovers on this night. Oklahoma finished the game with 13 turnovers charged to their team, while the Mountaineers were charged with 15 miscues.
Just two Mountaineers reached double figures in scoring on the night as senior guard Juwan Staten finished the game 5 of 11 from the field for 15 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Fellow senior Gary Browne finished the night 5 of 11 from the floor as well for 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Sophomore forward Devin Williams did not play in tonight’s game due to a recently contracted illness.
For the Sooners, it was all about junior guard Buddy Hield. The 6’4”, 209 pound native of the Bahamas went off on WVU’s desecrated defense. Hield finished the game 8 of 13 from the field for a game-high 21 points, along with five rebounds, two steals, and an assist. Three other Sooners reached double-figures on the night as sophomore guard Jordan Woodard registered 12, while juniors Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins each added 10.
With tonight’s loss, West Virginia drops to 18-4 overall, and 6-3 in Big XII conference play. Oklahoma improves to 15-7 overall, and 6-4 in league play following this latest win. The Mountaineers will have four days to lick their wounds following this troublesome defeat. They return to action Saturday afternoon when they host the 16-5 Baylor Bears at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. Tip-off is slated for Noon, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.